Media coverage and framing of genetically modified crops: A case study of science journalism in Nigeria
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study examines and analyses the media coverage and framing of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in Nigeria in view of the controversy surrounding the deployment of agricultural biotechnology. The objective is to examine the quality of media reporting on this contested science and the state of science journalism in the country. Agenda-setting and social constructionism are used to establish the theoretical framework for the study. The study employed both a qualitative and quantitative approach to data collection: content analysed four leading newspapers, 37 science journalists responded to an online questionnaire and eight in-depth interviews were conducted with science journalists. The main findings were that the frequency of reporting on GM crops was low; the tone of the headlines and articles was more negative; there were more articles with perceived risks of GM crops than perceived benefits; and the articles were mostly news stories about the comments of government officials and anti-GM activists. GM crops were framed in four prominent ways: agriculture, controversy, regulation, and safety with the regulation and safety frames dominating the media coverage. The media framing of GM crops was greatly influenced by the sources, predominated by government officials and anti-GM groups. Overall, the quality of media coverage of GM crops was very poor because of the poor state of science journalism in Nigeria. The journalists lacked the capacity and resources to cover science accurately, especially controversial science like GMO. This study recommends that scientists and research institutions should proactively engage the media and advocate in shaping public perception on scientific outcomes. It also recommends for newsrooms to specifically hire science journalists to generate locally relevant science stories, rather than filling their science pages with articles from foreign media.
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