Institute of Agricultural Ecomonics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

How the Swiss media report on farming issues

This content analysis of media coverage provides an overview, for the first time, of the frequency, depth and range of coverage of agricultural issues in the Swiss media in 2004. In total, 586 articles from eight newspapers and 55 features from six television programmes were analysed. In general, the coverage consists of factual journalism such as news articles and reports. Opinion-based journalism, such as comment or analysis, rarely features in the coverage. Almost half the articles deal with agriculture in a regional context, with around one third focussing on the national context. The range of topics covered is broad and varies from newspaper to newspaper. The most frequent themes in both the print media and television reporting are plant and animal products and their method of production. The representatives of the farmers’ organizations are the most frequent interviewees, followed by farming families. On television, Schweiz aktuell and Tagesschau broadcast the largest number of farming features, focussing primarily on production-related issues of national relevance. Television coverage, especially in Schweiz aktuell, is generally rather more benign than the print media. The reporting across all the media analysed in the study can be described as ranging from balanced to positive in 2004. However, judging from the scope and volume of coverage, topics selected and journalistic presentation, it may be concluded that media coverage of farming issues is somewhat superficial.

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