How did policy actors use mass media to influence the Scottish alcohol minimum unit pricing debate? Comparative analysis of newspapers, evidence submissions and interviews

Katikireddi, S. and Hilton, S. (2015) How did policy actors use mass media to influence the Scottish alcohol minimum unit pricing debate? Comparative analysis of newspapers, evidence submissions and interviews. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 22(2), pp. 125-134. (doi:10.3109/09687637.2014.977228) (PMID:26045639) (PMCID:PMC4438355)

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Abstract

Aims: To explore how policy actors attempted to deliberately frame public debate around alcohol minimum unit pricing (MUP) in the UK by comparing and contrasting their constructions of the policy in public (newspapers), semi-public (evidence submissions) and private (interviews).<p></p> Methods: Content analysis was conducted on articles published in ten national newspapers between 1 January 2005 and 30 June 2012. Newsprint data were contrasted with alcohol policy documents, evidence submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee and 36 confidential interviews with policy stakeholders (academics, advocates, industry representatives, politicians and civil servants).<p></p> Findings: A range of policy actors exerted influence both directly (through Parliamentary institutions and political representatives) and indirectly through the mass media. Policy actors were acutely aware of mass media’s importance in shaping public opinion and used it tactically to influence policy. They often framed messages in subtly different ways, depending on target audiences. In general, newspapers presented the policy debate in a “balanced” way, but this arguably over-represented hostile perspective and suggested greater disagreement around the evidence base than is the case.<p></p> Conclusions: The roles of policy actors vary between public and policy spheres, and how messages are communicated in policy debates depends on perceived strategic advantage.<p></p>

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Dr Vittal and Hilton, Professor Shona
Authors: Katikireddi, S., and Hilton, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy
Publisher:Informa Healthcare
ISSN:0968-7637
ISSN (Online):1465-3370
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 22(2):125-134
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656591Evaluating the Health Effects of Social InterventionsMatthew EganMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/4IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
656611Understanding and Use of Public Health ResearchShona HiltonMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/6IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU