Analysis of media coverage on breastfeeding policy in Washington State
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Background: Framing of messages about breastfeeding policy in the media can foster or hinder interpretations of policy’s potential benefits and may ultimately influence important policy decisions in institutions and legislative bodies. Objectives: To evaluate how breastfeeding policies were framed in print and web-based newspapers in Washington State; to identify sources of frames; to examine the balance of media coverage in support or against breastfeeding policy adoption. Methods: Print and web-based newspaper articles published from January 2000 through June 2014 specifically discussing breastfeeding policy were analyzed and coded (n= 131). A sub-sample (n= 46) was double coded. Inter-coder agreement was acceptable (Krippendorff α coefficient 0.83). Results: The number of articles about breastfeeding policy grew overall between 2000 and 2014 and peaked during periods of specific policy development. Seventy-four articles had a neutral tone, 49 supported breastfeeding policy and four were in opposition. Nine distinct supporting frames were identified and six distinct opposing frames. The most frequent supporting frames were health benefits of breastfeeding and challenges of breastfeeding in public. The most common opposing frame was indecency of breastfeeding in public. Many framed messages did not reference a source of information. Conclusions: There is limited but growing media coverage of breastfeeding policies. For the most part, coverage is supportive of the need for policies. Breastfeeding advocates can apply information about using message framing to craft effective policy development strategies.
- Epidemiology