Big Oil U: Canadian Media Coverage of Corporate Obstructionism and Institutional Corruption at the University of Calgary

Kevin D. McCartney, Garry Gray


A 2015 investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) into the involvement of Enbridge Inc. at the University of Calgary drew widespread media attention in Canada on issues of academic integrity and legitimacy as well as renewed attention to the increasing centrality of corporate dollars in public institutions. All of this was further embedded in a public consideration of climate change and the contested legitimacy of carbon corporate interests. A qualitative content media analysis of 70 published stories from Canadian news sources reveals a stark contrast between corporate and non-corporate media frames. Our analysis shows the parallel efforts of the University of Calgary, Enbridge, and corporate media to frame out the central issues of corporate obstructionism in public institutions and, equally, institutional corruption around the mandate, purpose, and intention of those public institutions.


Corporate Obstruction, Institutional Corruption, Academic Freedom, Public-Private Partnerships, Media Propaganda Model, Carbon Capitalism

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