Newsprint representation of the alcohol sales bans during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa: A mixed methods analysis
Alcohol sales bans in the news
Aims: Content analysis of newspapers covering the alcohol sales bans during Covid-19 in South Africa.
Methods: Mixed method content analysis of the highest circulated, paid for, English language newspapers published by four newspaper outlets in South Africa, between 26 February to 26 September 2020 (seven months).
Setting: South African Bibliographic Information Network (Sabinet) and Arena Holdings Media databases were used.
Participants: 317 newspaper articles were identified for analysis from four newspapers: Sunday Times (Arena Holdings), Daily Sun (Naspers), The Star (Independent Media) and the Mail and Guardian (Media Development Investment Fund).
Measures: Qualitative data: a structured coding frame was used to identify themes. Quantitative data: date, agency, placement/page number in the newspaper, number of graphics, words in heading and in article and whether the article was based on opinion or fact. The media vectors: framing, responsibility and newspaper media exposure were calculated.
Findings: Articles were predominantly unfavourable toward the alcohol sales bans, indicated that government should take responsibility for prevention of harmful alcohol use, and focused mainly on the negative economic impact of the alcohol sales bans.
Conclusions: News agencies should make a concerted effort to ensure balanced reporting on matters of health and put measures in place to prevent undue influence on journalists by large corporations, such as the alcohol industry.
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