Mapping Trajectories of Attention to Drug Related Issues in Estonian Main Dailies


Illicit drugs have been a burning social issue in Estonia over the last fifteen years. Estonia has taken the lead in Europe with regard to drug-related deaths and prevalence of HIV among injecting drug users. Experimental drug use among Estonian students is more widespread than the European average. It is important to study press coverage, because according to agenda setting theory, the media plays an important role in influencing the salience of social issues on the public agenda. The aim of this article is to map fluctuations in attention received from Estonian two major dailies to different drug related issues during the last 25 years. The author focuses on issues highlighted in national and international drug reports such as drug addiction, drug related crime, spread of HIV among addicts, drug-induced deaths, drug problem in schools etc. Content analysis of almost 1000 press articles reflecting drug problems in Estonia was carried out from 1990 to 2014. The study revealed that since 1995, attention received from the major newspapers to drug related crime has been high and quite stable compared to other drug issues. Press interest with regard to problem drug use and HIV was notice a bleat the turn of the millennium and in the beginning of the new century, but almost lost by 2014. More intense periods of coverage were triggered by specific events. Only a few articles have reflected drug induced death despite the fact that Estonia is the undisputed leader in the EU regarding this indicator. This reflects that the coverage was not been in line with the drug situation in Estonia. It seems that the attention of the press depends rather on newsworthiness of the issue and the agenda setting processes.

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Paimre, M. (2015) Mapping Trajectories of Attention to Drug Related Issues in Estonian Main Dailies. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 3, 39-48. doi: 10.4236/ajc.2015.32005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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