On news media and democratic debate: framing agricultural biotechnology in Northern Belgium
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
International communication gazette. - Deventer, 2006, currens
, p. 83-105
University of Antwerp
In characterizing the European debate on agricultural biotechnology as a risk conflict between different social groups with competing interests, the research question posed by this article is whether and to what extent news media are found to facilitate democratic debate about this technology, in terms of interpretive frames (and their sponsors) that influence or fail to influence news discourse. Data are presented from a content analysis (N = 1385) with a specific focus on how three elite and two popular newspapers in Northern Belgium report this debate between January 1998 and December 2007 in terms of a systematic selection of events, sources and frames. The aggregate findings indicate a politicization of the debate between February 1999 and April 2004, whereas the debate was primarily framed as a matter to be left to technocratic decision-making and/or market forces before and after. A more complex picture emerges when the results are considered by newspaper title.