An activist press: the farm press's coverage of the animal rights movement
Agriculture and Human Values 9(2): 38-53
The animal rights movement is a serious challenge to current agricultural practices. Agriculture's response, in part, depends on how successfully it can mobilize its natural constituency, farmers. However, theories of the mainstream press suggest that the mainstream press generally covers events, rarely reports or adopts the perspective of alternative movements, rarely includes mobilizing information, and suggests that routine social structures can, should, and will contain the movement. Hence, current theory indicates that the mainstream press does not act to mobilize the general public. However, very little research has examined how specialized presses, such as the farm press, respond to movements. The study reported here was based on an analysis of 406 articles from ten farm magazines. The findings suggest that the farm press acted more as an advocacy press than does the mainstream press. Collectively, the farm press articles included as many positions pieces and stories explaining animal rights as an issue as they did event stories. The articles reported, and countered, the positions of the animal rights movement; suggested that routine social structures might not contain the animal rights movement; called for agriculture to mobilize; and included specific recommendations concerning how agriculture should mobilize.