419 Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions of Journalists for Newspapers in Metropolitan Markets in the United States Regarding Food Biotechnology Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This study enhances knowledge of and information for food systems educators and industry about multiplying their efforts—enlisting collaboration of journalists and the social institution of mass media—in educating consumers about food biotechnology. The focus of this study (diffusion of innovations of food biotechnology) may change behaviors of researchers, agricultural educators, and those in the food biotechnology industry. The researchers investigated journalists' knowledge about, attitudes toward, and perceptions of food biotechnology. Eighty-eight journalists practicing at the nation's largest newspapers and representing “beats” of business, environment, agribusiness, features, food, health/medical, and science/technology provided data for the study. A researcher-developed instrument measured journalists' knowledge, journalists' attitudes (acceptance of genetically modified organisms, acceptance of food biotech practices, effects of biotechnology, level of importance of research, faith in sources, level of importance placed on investigative reporting style, and fear of using food biotechnology), and journalists' perceptions regarding acceptance of food biotechnology as a farm practice. Major findings were journalists' knowledge was low (mean 30.2%), most journalists considered genetic modification of plants as “acceptable,” journalists had greatest faith in “university scientists” and “health professionals” as sources of biotechnology information, journalists do further investigation and interpretation of information given by sources based on their faith in the source, journalists believed that farmers would accept food biotechnology more rapidly than consumers, journalists with higher perceived scientific knowledge had greater acceptance of genetically modified organisms, journalists with more knowledge about biotechnology saw fewer obstacles to acceptance of food biotechnology; and “Writers” rather than “Editors/Managers” accepted more readily genetically modified organisms, had greater faith in sources, had less fear of using food biotechnology, and perceived a more rapid rate of acceptance of food biotechnology as a farm practice.

author list (cited authors)

  • Vestal, T. A., & Briers, G. E.

citation count

  • 2

publication date

  • June 1999