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Aust N Z J Public Health. 1999 Jun;23(3):233-9.

The new pariahs: discourse on the tobacco industry in the Sydney press, 1993-97.

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Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, New South Wales.



To review the principal sub-texts contained in all press coverage and references to the tobacco industry in a major Sydney newspaper over five years.


After excluding value-neutral financial page reports, thematic analysis of all value-laden references to the tobacco industry in the Sydney Morning Herald, January 1993 to December 1997.


Some 155 articles containing 221 separate references to the tobacco industry were identified. Eight sub-texts (callous merchants of death; conspiracy/cover-up; blood money; toxic pied pipers; corporate leviathans; beleaguered/legitimate industry; index case of unethical or corrupt practice; and bumbling fools) accounted for all 221 references. Eighty-nine per cent of references to the industry framed it negatively. Journalists or regular newspaper columnists authored 56% of the references. Only 5% of comments were attributed to tobacco company sources.


In press reports, the tobacco industry is routinely framed as a corporate pariah by journalists, the public, government spokespeople and tobacco control advocates.


Routine negative publicity about the tobacco industry is likely to significantly reduce its public credibility and political influence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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