Publications & Reports

Examining trends in the representation of young people and alcohol in Australian newspapers over twenty years (2000-2019).

Pennay A, Cook M, MacLean S, Lubman DI, Dietze P, Herring R, Caluzzi G, Vashishtha R, Livingston M
Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, 3083, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected]


BACKGROUND: The news media can reflect and influence public opinion, as well as affect individual practice. In the context of significant changes in alcohol consumption among young people over the past twenty years, we examined Australian newspaper reporting of young people (under 18 years) and alcohol to assess whether there have been changes over time in the content and slant of articles that reflect or elucidate these trends. METHODS: Factiva was used to search newspaper articles from major Australian newspapers over a twenty year period (2000-2019). After screening, two researchers coded 2415 newspaper articles across four key domains: article type, article theme, sources cited and topic slant (e.g. approving, disapproving tone). Change over time across the study period was assessed using joinpoint Poisson regression analyses. RESULTS: There was a significant increase in articles on young people and alcohol between 2000 and 2008, before a corresponding decrease to 2019. Policy or prevention strategies were the most common theme of articles (35.8%), followed by articles reporting on risks or harms associated with alcohol use for young people (18.1%). Researchers were the most common source reported (25.1%), followed by politicians (19.0%). Three quarters of articles (75.9%) had a socially disapproving topic slant, which increased significantly up until 2011, with a corresponding decrease thereafter. CONCLUSION: Attention to, and problematisation of, young people and alcohol increased in the first decade of this millennium which may have acted to sustain or accelerate declining drinking trends. However, this dissipated back to baseline levels in the second decade, which may indicate a lag time in recognition of young people’s drinking becoming less of a public health ‘problem’.

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  • Journal: The International Journal on Drug Policy
  • Published: 01/01/2022
  • Volume: 99
  • Pagination: 103461