When a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, is confirmed, it causes a major impact economically, socially, culturally, and geographically. Through framing analysis, this study examined the way in which a case of BSE confirmed in Canada was covered in Canadian and American newspapers. By examining what the major newspapers emphasized, what sources they used for information on the disease, and the frames used in reporting the outbreak, results indicated a significant difference between American and Canadian print media coverage surrounding the mad cow outbreak. Specifically, U.S. newspapers primarily reported the outbreak as posing a high risk to humans, while Canadian newspapers primarily reported the outbreak as a crisis for the Canadian cattle industry. Overall, the news coverage of the mad cow disease outbreak in May 2003 was negative, potentially causing uncertainty and fear in Canada and the United States. If journalists cover only agricultural news that is problematic or associated with risk—like mad cow disease—then it can be expected that consumers will continue to lack accurate knowledge and understanding of agricultural and food-related issues.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.