We examined national, regional, and Alabama newspaper coverage of biofuels development to observe variation in coverage and to understand the role of media on controversial issues of national importance. The years covered, 2007-2009, coincided with peak media interest in biofuels. Our focus on Alabama and the South is justified by the potential for biofuels development present in that state and region. We hypothesized that sources quoted would vary by topics, that article tone would vary depending on biofuel type and associated feedstock, and that tone would vary depending on whether the focus was on local economic impacts or broader issues related to biofuels. All three hypotheses were supported. We conclude that newspapers in this study have served as conduits for the views of local growth machine coalitions, but that when the focus extended to issues beyond the local realm, newspapers have played a different role, actively contributing to public discussion and policy debate.

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