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Food crisis coverage by social and traditional media: A case study of the 2008 Irish dioxin crisis.

Authors: Liran Shan, Áine Regan, Aoife De Brún, Julie Barnett, Maarten CA van der Sanden, Patrick Wall, and Áine McConnon

Public Understanding of Science, 2013


The world of communication has changed significantly in the last decade due to the evolution of social media. Food crisis managers and communicators should be cognizant of the messages presented to the public by all media channels during a crisis. Using the 2008 Irish dioxin contamination incident as an example, a quantitative content analysis was carried out to investigate the relationship between social and traditional media. Messages published in printed newspapers (n=141), blogs & forums (n=107) and Twitter (n=68) were analysed to investigate: sourcing practice, story topic and use of tone. Results revealed that traditional media relied on diverse offline sources in reporting a wide range of topics. In comparison, social media responded faster and diminished faster, using offline and online media news messages as the primary sources in reporting very limited topics. No significant difference was found in the presence of negative tone across media.

Keywords: Food safety, crisis communication, traditional media, social media, content analysis