Quem conta um conto acrescenta um ponto': Drugs as news in Portugal
The media detains a considerable amount of control of the narratives concerning human experience, highlighting, or concealing themes, phenomena, and actors, through their own mechanisms, according to multiple factors of interest. In the field of deviance these mechanisms play a crucial role in perpetuating the marginalisation and discrimination of those involved. This fact is particularly notorious when it comes to the social discourse on Drugs. This study sought to describe how the news articles on Drugs are formulated to identify which phenomena and actors are reported and how both are portrayed in the media discourse.
A content analysis of 535 news articles was carried out on three digital newspapers: PÚBLICO, Correio da Manhã and Jornal de Notícias. An additional cluster analysis was carried out to identify the main news frameworks. The results show an apparent neutrality in the construction of the discourse around actors and phenomena commonly stereotyped in the social discourse. They also show a primary focus on the criminality of drug phenomena, expressed by the frequent reporting of events marked by the action of law enforcement and the underrepresentation of vital actors in the panorama of Harm Reduction. The analysis allowed the identification of two distinct frameworks: the first, which encapsulates the narratives within a penal/criminal logic; and the second of a more interventional nature, associated with a social-sanitary approach.
The continuous study of the effects of media in the construction of the social discourse on Drugs is advocated, to identify strategies to bridge the gap between underrepresented actors and media structures, to endow the social discourse with more humanizing and exhaustive narratives in the description of all aspects of the phenomena of Drugs.