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Agenda building in media coverage of food research

Weitkamp, Emma; Eidsvaag, Torill

Authors

Emma Weitkamp Emma.Weitkamp@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor in Science Communication

Torill Eidsvaag



Abstract

Concern has been raised about the rising influence of public relations on scientific news coverage and the potential role of institutional sources in shaping news reports. This study uses quantitative content analysis and qualitative interviews to explore the influence of public relations activities on newspaper coverage of “superfoods” and, in particular, to explore the transparency of reporting of the sources of research funding. Superfoods were chosen as a case study because the term is applied to a wide range of foods with potential health benefits (e.g. foods high in antioxidants). Furthermore, foods labelled as “superfoods” have seen sharp increases in sales, suggesting a potential commercial incentive for such labelling. Analysis of a sample of news articles reporting superfoods revealed a considerable influence for media releases in shaping the content of reports, while less than a third of reports discussing research studies funded by organisations with a commercial interest in the findings mentioned the funding sources. Qualitative interviews confirmed the role of press offices in promoting research, particularly from scientific conferences, and suggest that scientific societies are applying less stringent criteria to studies selected for publication than in the past.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 2, 2014
Journal Journalism Practice
Print ISSN 1751-2786
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 6
Pages 871-886
APA6 Citation Weitkamp, E., & Eidsvaag, T. (2014). Agenda building in media coverage of food research. Journalism Practice, 8(6), 871-886. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2013.865966
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2013.865966
Keywords agenda building, food research, health and media, media and science, media relations, science journalism
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2013.865966
Additional Information Additional Information : Published online: 02 Jan 2014
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