UK news reporting of alcohol: An analysis of television and newspaper coverage



Nicholls J (2011) UK news reporting of alcohol: An analysis of television and newspaper coverage. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 18 (3), pp. 200-206.

Aims: To identify patterns in the representation of alcohol-related stories in the UK news media. To consider what kind of stories are reported and how reports are framed through thematic focus, imagery and the selection of sources by journalists. Methods: Quantitative content analysis of seven daily newspapers and four television news programmes over two sample periods: 20 December 2008–2 January 2009 and 15–22 March 2009. Findings: News reporting strongly emphasizes negative outcomes, especially violence, drink-driving and long-term health impacts – specifically liver disease. Reports of celebrity drinking are commonplace. Public health perspectives play a central role in the framing of alcohol-related stories. There is a clear gender divide: male drinking is associated with violence, while female drinking is associated with simply appearing drunk. Supermarkets are identified as a central cause of problem drinking, and cheap alcohol is seen as a greater threat than relaxed licensing laws. Conclusions: Compared to previous studies, the ‘normalization’ of drinking in news reporting has declined. Public health advocates have successfully established themselves as key sources for alcohol stories. However, there remains no consensus on public health policy initiatives.

Health(social science); Medicine (miscellaneous)

Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy: Volume 18, Issue 3

FundersArts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date30/06/2011
Publication date online07/09/2010
Date accepted by journal07/09/2010
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Dr James Nicholls

Dr James Nicholls

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Health Sciences Stirling