Published: October 2014

ID #: CAS016

Publisher: Berkeley Media Studies Group

Authors: Nixon L, Mejia P, Dorfman L

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In 2013, Telluride, Colo., proposed a tax on sugary drinks that would require local business owners to pay the city one cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages sold. The proposed tax did not pass, but generated a large amount of news coverage and controversy. This report evaluates the news coverage the proposal generated, examining the types and quantity of coverage, the speakers quoted in the coverage, and the arguments that appeared on both sides of the debate. The investigators found that the news coverage in Telluride framed the soda tax issue primarily in terms of the potential ramifications for the health and economy of the town. They also compare Telluride coverage with the coverage of similar 2012 soda tax proposals in Richmond and El Monte, Calif., and identified both common patterns and differences in coverage from the three cities. These findings contribute to a growing body of knowledge on how soda tax news debates play out within the unique context of each community in which they are proposed.

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