Agenda building in media coverage of food research

Weitkamp, E. and Eidsvaag, T. (2014) Agenda building in media coverage of food research. Journalism Practice, 8 (6). pp. 871-886. ISSN 1751-2786 Available from:

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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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 02 Jan 2014
Uncontrolled Keywords: agenda building, food research, health and media, media and science, media relations, science journalism
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences > Department of Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Dr E. Weitkamp
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2014 10:05
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2016 14:19


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