This paper looked at the nature of sourcing stories in the press coverage of the anti-sugar debate and the supermarket industry in the UK. The research design was a mixed-method study founded in an interpretivist epistemology. Content analysis has been conducted on 454 articles from national and regional press and this analysis provided an answer on who influences the news agenda. Qualitative interviews with journalists explored what sources journalists use when selecting and sourcing stories. The findings show that NGOs are regularly used as a source for stories in the British press, while the news agenda is largely driven by the self-interest of journalists, which corresponds with agenda of the NGO Action on Sugar. Journalists also largely rely on contacts when sourcing stories, but NGOs are present in the mind of journalists when deciding how to source stories. In addition, views of journalists correspond with views of NGOs on the role and position of the business in society.


Press, Source Analysis, Qualitative Interviews, Sugar Debate, Supermarkets, UK

Author Bio(s)

Dr Martina Topić is a senior lecturer in public relations at Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Business School. Martina also worked at the University of Zagreb (Faculty of Political Science) as a research assistant (2007-2013). At Leeds Beckett University, she was first appointed as a graduate teaching assistant (2014-2016), then Lecturer in Public Relations (2016-2017), and since December 2017, she works as a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations. She has worked as a researcher in many research projects, including UNESCO Media Development Indicators (2008-2009), FP7 Identities and Modernities in Europe (2009-2012), Public Service Employment (2017-2017), yellow sticker shopping project (since October 2017), sustainability and consumer views (June 2018-June 2019) and COMPETE IN project (since October 2017). She also currently leads three projects, the British Academy funded project on women in the advertising industry, EUPRERA project on women in public relations and HEFCE project on women in journalism. Since 2016, she serves as Local Research Ethics Coordinator, Social Media Manager for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (Facebook and Twitter), and academic advisor to Level 1 and Level 2 students (Public Relations, Journalism). Martina also holds Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and she is an external examiner at Bournemouth University (BA [Hons] Public Relations) and Wolverhampton University (MA Corporate Communications and Public Relations). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: martinahr@gmail.com.

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