Start Date: March 2013

ID #: CAS012

Organization: Public Health Institute - Berkeley Media Studies Group

Project Lead: Lori Dorfman, DrPH

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The purpose of this project is to understand public debates regarding proposed local soda taxes based on experiences during 2012 in the cities of Richmond and El Monte, California, so that future ballot initiatives might better anticipate what to expect when sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are presented to local voters. News media content and online comments on articles and in blogs surrounding the public debate about the proposed SSB tax in these two cities from within the state of California and nationally will be gathered and analyzed. This will include content and discourse related to the health impact of sugary drinks and the role of government in protecting the public’s health. A coding instrument to be used to code all content will be developed. The coded content will be analyzed to establish the frequency of various arguments and spokespeople (e.g., elected officials, industry-funded community groups, public health practitioners, religious leaders, youth and adult residents) as they are quoted in news stories, on blogs, or espoused online in comments. The final report will include a quantitative accounting of which arguments appeared in various news sources as well as a qualitative analysis of how those arguments were expressed.

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