Discursive power in conservation exercised through media. An analysis of WWF’s “A Future for All” report and their use of celebrity ambassadors
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Studies on the relationship between conservation and celebrities is still a new field that is still growing and might continue to grow with the changes of new media, and specifically due to the growth of social media. This thesis will add to this field of study, and perhaps contribute to the understanding of how powerful new media is in upholding reputations, and how powerful they can be in the process of changing attitudes towards a topic. I will address how celebrities are used as ambassadors for humanitarian causes, and how the interference of the famous and wealthy can alter and enhance the message of, in this case, conservation organisations. For this paper I chose to focus on the presentation of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), for the organisation's wide reach and contested reputation due to claims of human rights abuse, while maintaining a position in the world as one of the most successful conservation organisations. I found that WWF through their presentation is exercising discursive power, and by using celebrities they are either amplifying their message or shifting focus towards the celebrity. Due to the presentation of outdated views on local communities and indigenous groups as a threat to wildlife and wilderness, and the treatment of said groups, they continue to practice fortress conservation that is closely linked to colonialism.