• Rie Graversen
  • Shane André Sørensen
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
This Thesis symbolizes the end of our Master’s Degree in Communication at University Aalborg Copenhagen. The Thesis analyses the media rendering of a food fraud crisis that unfolded in a particular Danish supermarket chain between the fall of 2009 through to the summer of 2010. This is done in order to answer the Thesis research question, by which it is intended to examine how the media covered and gave account of the particular case. Additionally, the paper scrutinizes whether media coverage of cases and crises in companies has an effect on the choices individuals make as consumers.

The Thesis takes a social constructivist approach, which implies that the resultant conclusion is only one truth of a possible many. Qualitative research methods have been deployed in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the case, both from the perspective of the consumer and society in general.

Norman Fairclough’s three-dimensional model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was applied to analyze the media coverage of the food fraud crisis, in which the Thesis takes its point of departure. The application of Fairclough’s model as analytical tool made it possible to connect a linguistic oriented dimension to the social and political analysis. As it is the purpose of this Thesis to put the food fraud crisis in social context with regards to Ulrich Beck’s risk society theory, the third dimension of Fairclough’s model, i.e. the sociocultural practice, was used as a tool to understand the media coverage of the food fraud scandal from a social perspective.

The observable communication management of the case by SuperBest was analyzed with the purpose of assessing whether the company had managed to act in accordance with the responsibility bestowed to it by its stakeholders. This discussion was built upon Timothy Coombs’ crisis communication and William Benoit’s image restoration theories. Correspondingly, the Thesis also discusses which effect SuperBest’s ensuing communication course of action had on the individual as a consumer.

Based on the discourse analytical approach, which in addition to the analyses of text composition and text consumption, also observes how the media mixed discourses and genres in their account of the food scandal to portray a certain image of the scandal. An image that was served to the consumers through the media.

The analysis touches upon, among other things, how the use of criminal discourse served to portray SuperBest as a company that scrupulously planned meat fraud to increase turnover. Further, the analysis shows how consumer television show ‘Kontant’, aired on a public service-channel, involved celebrity television chefs from the ‘Spise med Price’ television show to stimulate the entertainment aspect of the exposure of the scandal.

The Thesis intended, through the meat fraud scandal in SuperBest, to examine how the Danish media render and give account of risks and crises, but also to scrutinize if the above has an effect on the choices the individual consumer makes. The main conclusion is that the media have a certain amount of power, which can decide how an issue is perceived in the general public. Purposely, the media employ experts, consumers and former employees to substantiate their own rendering. It is also clear that the media incorporate a commercialization aspect in their coverage of crises such as that of SuperBest, in which the mediation the media content is subject to market mechanisms that equate the audience to clients, and the ultimate goal is to attain high viewer and reader rates. Hence, the media content is deliberately edited and adjusted to match the interest of the public. Ultimately, the qualitative analysis shows that the media rendering has an influence on the choices of the consumer, as the individual uses the media as a source of information to mitigate risks.
Publication date2 Jun 2014
Number of pages139
ID: 198381286