Print media reportage of agricultural biotechnology in the Philippines: a decade’s (2000-2009) analysis of news coverage and framing

This article presents key results of a ten-year study of media coverage of agricultural biotechnology in the Philippines, the only country in Asia to date to approve a biotech food/feed crop (Bt corn) for commercialization. The top three national English newspapers – Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star were analyzed to determine patterns of media attention measured by coverage peaks, tone, source of news, keywords, and media frames used. Biotechnology news was generally positive but not high in the media agenda. News coverage was marked by occasional peaks brought about by drama and controversial events which triggered attention but not long enough to sustain interest. The study provides a glimpse into the role of mass media in a developing country context. It shows how a complex and contentious topic is integrated into the mainstream of news reporting, and eventually evolves from an emotional discourse to one that allows informed decision making.