News coverage of alcohol and other drugs in U.S. college newspapers

J Drug Educ. 2000;30(4):453-65. doi: 10.2190/QV88-D0DV-P0YM-6EF4.


This study investigated the substance use-related content of a sample of student-run college newspapers. Two independent coders examined 157 news stories, features, editorials, commentaries, letters, photographs, and cartoons. Items about alcohol appeared in one out of every two issues, while items about other drugs appeared in one out of every five issues. Basic information about alcohol and other drug (AOD) use was reported in about one-fifth of the items, while three-fourths dealt with social, legal, safety, or health problems associated with AOD use, especially alcohol consumption. Just over half referred to some type of control policy, most often an enforcement action. Around one-fourth mentioned educational efforts to promote AOD prevention. Very few dealt with detection, intervention, or treatment. Most college newspapers are missing good opportunities for more extensive coverage of AOD issues that would better inform their readers, especially about factors contributing to campus AOD problems and specific program and policy options.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Newspapers as Topic* / statistics & numerical data*
  • Safety
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • United States
  • Universities*