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- PublicationExploring coverage of the 2008 Irish dioxin crisis in Irish and UK newsprint mediaThe 2008 dioxin crisis occurred as a result of contamination of Irish pork. The event had significant implications for Ireland’s economy and the reputation of its agricultural industry, as well as raising concerns for human health. This study describes the results of a content analysis of Irish and UK newspaper coverage of the 2008 Irish dioxin crisis, as this is likely to provide insight into how public perceptions of this issue were shaped. Articles from 16 print publications were systematically sampled for the period December 2008 to February 2009. The resulting data set of 141 articles was examined using a coding protocol developed based on previous research and refined during piloting. Results indicated that the dioxin crisis was primarily portrayed by the media as an industry/economic crisis, dominant in 26.9% of articles in the sample. Within this dominant portrayal, the agricultural industry was frequently cited as being in crisis (42.6%); however, the implications of the crisis on the wider economic environment also received attention (17.7%). Differences between Irish and UK-based media were also examined, revealing that while the Irish media most frequently described the crisis in terms of its impact on the industry and economy, the UK media were more likely to portray the crisis as a risk to health. These dominant media messages and message framings have implications for the public understanding of the issue in each country and potential consequences regarding perception of the adequacy of existing food policy and regulatory oversight.
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