Our methodology strives to answer the following question: What are the risk-oriented narratives used by PG&E and regular news media surrounding the
decision to close down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant? We used a narrative-focused literary analysis delineated into two forms: rhetorical and meta-narrative analysis. The former investigates the exact words used in literature and how they appeal to certain societal values and audience perspectives. This was achieved by counting “buzz words” that hold strong weight when appealing to either logos, ethos, or pathos. The latter investigates the connections among different types of rhetoric spanning across multiple platforms of literature. This was inspired by historical research methods conducted in our other academia that analyze the context of literature by considering the author, temporality, and content of a publication in order to discern its explicit or implicit messages and intentions.
The forms of literature we chose to investigate first includes sources directly tied to PG&E encompassing the company’s website, Newsroom (press releases), and Currents (community journalism). We believe these sources provide a near-comprehensive view of PG&E’s risk-oriented narrative when approaching its decision to close down DCPP. The second form of literature we chose to analyze was third-party news media covering broader responses of other actors besides PG&E. Articles were selected by using the Google News search engine using the search tag “Diablo Canyon.” The three sources of literature we chose to cover PG&E may not include other representative documents such as those which cover the entire legal proceedings of the plant closure.
In addition to our narrative-focused literary analysis, we created an actor-network concept map outlining the relationships between actors that reflects the ways their risk-oriented narratives interact with one another. This concept map reflects the interpretive framework we drafted that draws inspiration from Fischhoff et al. (1984)’s framework to measure risk. We took their ideas of defining risk in terms of attributes that reflect society’s values for a given risk-oriented context. Nevertheless, we chose the societal values of physiological safety, economic stability, and environmental responsibility in terms of climate change politics to act as risk-oriented attributes for interpretation of our rhetorical and meta-narrative results.