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Traditional and social media in food risk communication

corresponding

MARY FRIEL, JOSEPHINE M. WILLS*
*Corresponding author
European Food Information Council, Tassel House, rue Paul-Emile Janson 6, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract

Social media offers an approach to communicating which enforces many of the key principles of effective risk communication, such as timeliness and openness. However, the use of social media is not without its challenges. To ensure effective messages are communicated to the public during times of food risk/crises, it is imperative that sources of such information are cognisant of the role played by both traditional and social media. This paper discusses these issues and highlights some results from the recent European Commission-funded FoodRisC project – Perceptions and communication of food risk/benefits across Europe.


WHO IS COMMUNICATING IN THE MEDIA ON FOOD RISKS?

Food plays a central role in all our lives and because it is inherently personal it makes compelling news. Public interest in nutrition, food safety and health has increased significantly over the past years, and within the general sphere of media communications, food risks and benefits are common topics.

The practice of journalism has undergone significant change. The ability to report on news is no longer solely the remit of professionally employed journalists. Nowadays anyone can write and disseminate news as a ‘citizen journalist’ (e.g. hobby and self-publishing journalists). This has been facilitated by the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies and the rapid developments in digital connectivity via the internet which allows people to easily generate, broadcast and share information via blogs, microblogs (e.g. Twitter), content communities (e.g. YouTube and web forums), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) and so on. These developments have also altered the manner by which food safety agencies and other food risk information sources (e.g. institutes, food industry and consumer groups) can co ...




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