The Summer of Salmonella in salsa: A framing analysis of the 2008 Salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes and jalapenos
Posted: November 7th, 2010 - 8:36am
The purpose of this study was to examine television news coverage of the 2008 Salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes and jalapenos through the scope of framing theory. Transcripts of news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC from May 1, 2008 to October 1, 2008 were researched, using a qualitative content analysis. ALexis-Nexis (news search engine) search using the search term “Salmonella” revealed 71 usable transcripts.
Researchers found anti-government, pro-agricultural producer, and anti-Mexican produce imports were the most common frames presented by the networks. Specifically, CNN voiced strong disapproval for the manner in which the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Congress handled the crisis. CNN was also very supportive of tomato growers’ financial distress while they were unable to market their crop. Many of the stories were simple, informational pieces informing the public about Salmonella’s symptoms and prevention methods, varieties of tomatoes and peppers to avoid, and number of illnesses. In all, the researchers found most of the news coverage was based on the facts that were available at the time; however, some networks provided personal opinions and speculation.