Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, Frick

Agriculture in the media – which issues are addressed and how are they represented?

The content analysis presented focuses on the question of which agricultural issues are reported in the Swiss media and how these issues are represented. For this purpose 1,588 articles from six German-language Swiss newspapers and 215 TV reports from three news programmes on Swiss television were analysed according to their content; the research material was taken from the years 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2006. Both the number and the length of media reports on agricultural issues remained stable at a low level between 1996 and 2006. More than 50% of all print media reports and 70% of all TV reports fall into the categories of “production” and “society”. Reports about these issues are also shown to contain a greater average number of high news value factors than those about other issues, such as “agricultural policy”, “agricultural markets” and “communication”. The way the issues are represented was determined using the framing approach. This shows that over the last 10 years there has been an increase in positive frames and a decrease in negative frames. We put this down to changes in the media industry that have occurred as a result of the Internet and free newspapers; these changes have led to a greater emphasis on reports from the region, particularly among the regional newspapers. Reports about agriculture in the regional context are generally represented in a more positive light than those in the national and international context.

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