Australian television news coverage of alcohol, health and related policies, 2005 to 2010: implications for alcohol policy advocates
Article first published online: 8 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. ANZJPH © 2012 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 36, Issue 6, pages 530–536, December 2012
How to Cite
Fogarty, A. S. and Chapman, S. (2012), Australian television news coverage of alcohol, health and related policies, 2005 to 2010: implications for alcohol policy advocates. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 36: 530–536. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2012.00933.x
- Issue published online: 10 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 8 NOV 2012
- Submitted: December 2011 Revision requested: February 2012 Accepted: March 2012
- content analysis;
- television news
Objective: To describe television news coverage between 2005 and 2010 of alcohol, health and relevant alcohol-control policies, with a view to informing policy advocacy.
Methods: A content analysis of all alcohol stories archived by the Australian Health News Research Collaboration. We recorded what triggered a news item, the main topics covered, whether risks to health were communicated, whether alcohol-control policies were featured and which news-actors appeared.
Results: We identified 612 stories, where 69.2% were triggered by a particular newsworthy incident or the release of new findings. The most frequently reported alcohol stories were focused on associated harms (30.2%) and ‘binge drinking’ (19.0%). A majority (75.3%) reported a variety of positive and negative health effects, yet mainly focused on short-term consequences. Combined, 63% mentioned an alcohol-control policy, yet no one particular policy was featured in more than 10% of all stories. The most commonly featured news-actors included public-health professionals (50.0%), members of affected communities (28.4%) and government representatives (24.3%)
Conclusions: Problems related to alcohol were well-established foci of news attention and reportage and covered a broad spectrum of issues related to public health goals, yet less coverage centred on long-term health consequences or effective policy solutions.
Implications: Future policy advocacy could focus on moving the debate away from simple problem definition to better communication of long-term health risks, existing policies, and evidence of their effectiveness and arguments for their adoption. Future research might consider audience understanding of the information.