Conversations with Gatekeepers: An Exploratory Study of Agricultural Publication Editors' Decisions to Publish Risk Coverage

Journal of Applied Communications 01/2010; 94(1-2).


The United States' agriculture industry is impacted by numerous f inancial, human, legal, and production risks. These risks are frequently reported in mass media and agricultural publications. Farmers often use agricultural magazines to help them make production decisions and learn about new technology, which both involve some element of risk. Gatekeeping is the process of determining what information is in-cluded in media coverage in which editors serve as gatekeepers and make decisions regarding what topics to report. The purpose of this study was to discover how agricultural publication editors, in their role as gatekeepers, make decisions regarding coverage of risk related to agriculture and to explore the forces that influence this coverage. Researchers interviewed seven purposively selected editors of national or regional agricultural magazines. The f indings indicated that the editors conceptualize risk in agriculture differ-ently from how agricultural risks are reported in the mainstream media for the more general public; many emphasized the issues in terms of marketing or f inancial risk. Editors emphasized that they report on risk from an action angle, providing advice or information on how to mitigate the risk. The public's perception of agriculture, advertisers, and personal topic preferences were cited as influencers of their risk coverage. When covering risk stories, agricultural publication editors prefer journalists who can write well and have an agricultural background or knowledge of the industry. Future research should be conducted to expand on the results from this exploratory study.

Download full-text


Available from: Katie Abrams
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The farming sector is a major actor in developing renewable energy, providing sites, feedstock and investment. Media coverage can both drive and reflect levels of interest in renewable energy, and affect policy support and farmer decision-making about deployment. This paper presents a content analysis of attention to renewable energy in the British farming press from 1980 to 2013, identifying the topics which sparked sustained media interest. Cycles of increased attention to specific types of renewable energy are made evident through quantification of article frequencies and qualitative analysis of content. The findings contribute to the explanation of the role of information in the diffusion of renewable energy. Wind energy and liquid biofuels have received the most attention, with multiple attention cycles, whereas photovoltaics and anaerobic digestion have received focused attention only in recent years. Policy changes, particularly support measures, emerge as the most important driver of media attention, although public controversies, particularly in relation to wind energy, lead to longer periods of attention. Attention typically increases when opportunities in renewable energy emerge and then quickly shifts to a longer stage of focused attention, in which opportunities, problems and solutions are explored and advice is offered, before attention declines. The media thus clearly play a role in informing farmers about opportunities arising in relation to renewable energy technology and policy developments, but are less helpful in providing ongoing and consistent information about recurrent and more complex problems. Thus the farming press appears likely to have the strongest impact on 'early adopters' of renewable technologies, but is unlikely to contribute to diffusion at later stages, when potential adopters are less willing to bear uncertainties.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews