Breastfeeding articles in the Australian press: 1996-1999

Breastfeed Rev. 2002 Mar;10(1):5-10.


The mass print media provide an opportunity to promote health messages to the general community. This paper examines articles on breastfeeding in the mass print media available to a low socioeconomic area in Australia over a four-year period from 1996 to 1999. Between January 1996 and December 1999, 334 breastfeeding articles were identified in the four main newspapers available in a low socioeconomic metropolitan area. Breastfeeding messages presented by the articles were examined using content analysis. While most articles presented a neutral message about breastfeeding (43%), more articles presented a positive message (35%) than a negative message (14%). Twenty-two percent of the articles were letters to the editor, and only 1.3% of the articles were accompanied by photos of a baby being breastfed. Fifty-five articles discussed breastfeeding in public making it the most common breastfeeding issue mentioned. Breastfeeding is an emotive issue and could be more actively supported and promoted by publishing more newspaper articles that present a positive message of breastfeeding, more positive headlines, and more breastfeeding photos.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Class