Media reporting on alcohol and other drugs in Australia and the Mindframe guidelines: Baseline data


Introduction:

The aim of this study was to generate a baseline database of print media reporting on alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues prior to the release of the Mindframe guidelines in March 2019. Specifically, to: (i) describe the content associated with media entries that focus on AOD use in Australian news media; (ii) determine how the media entries compare to several domains associated with recently developed Mindframe guidelines for publicly reporting on AOD; and (iii) identify content factors associated with different scores.


Methods:

Media entries between July 2016 and June 2017 were searched for key AOD-related terms using the Australian and New Zealand Newsstream database. Two coding schemes were developed to rate a stratified sample of 50% of the media entries against the Mindframe guidelines. Associations between content and total comparison scores were determined using linear regression models.


Results:

Detailed coding of the 2007 articles identified as relevant for the current study indicated that a majority (67%) were focused on one of three substances: alcohol, cannabis or methamphetamine. Most of the entries were either law enforcement (22%) or criminal justice related (19%). Entries that focused on methamphetamine scored significantly lower than entries on alcohol when compared to the Mindframe guidelines, similarly entries focused on crime/justice-related topics scored significantly lower than entries focused on positive outcomes.


Discussion and conclusions:

A disproportionate number of print media entries, particularly those related methamphetamine use, focused on crime or justice-related topics, potentially further contributing to stigma, and emphasising the legal consequences of AOD use.


Keywords:

alcohol; cannabis; media monitoring; methamphetamine; stigma.

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