How farm animal welfare issues are framed in the Australian media

Emily A. Buddle, Heather Bray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Topics related to ethical issues in agricultural production, particularly farm animal welfare, are increasingly featured in mainstream news media. Media representations of farm animal welfare issues are important because the media is a significant source of information, but also because the way that the issues are represented, or framed, defines these issues in particular ways, suggests causes or solutions, and provides moral evaluations. As such, analysis of media frames can reveal how issues are being made public and identify the cues that audiences are given to help them make sense of complex ethical issues. Previous research on media frames and animal welfare has tended to focus on single issues or events; however we sought to identify whether media frames extended across different farm animal welfare-related issues to investigate whether there is any commonality between issues. We analysed articles published in the mainstream press in Australia between 2014 and 2016 related to farm animal welfare, and identified two dominant frames: that governments and the farm animal production industries cannot be trusted to ensure good farm animal
welfare; and that consumers can act to improve animal welfare through ethical consumption. These frames have implications for how the Australian public interpret and understand the roles and responsibilities of different actors in the food production system. This research also contributes to discussion about the role of the media in shaping public opinion about ethical issues in agriculture and how, in turn, the media landscape itself is being shaped by consumer attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-376
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2019


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