Animal Studies Journal


After graphic footage of cows sent from Australia being slaughtered in Indonesia was shown on the current affairs program Four Corners, the issue of live animal export from Australia entered the national spotlight. While debate about the validity of live export was passionate and involved many different voices, an animal welfare frame dominated. The philosophy of animal welfare accepts and promotes the idea that the slaughter of other animals can be humane, whereas an animal rights position rejects this slaughter, regardless of how it is carried out. Ideally, the media would present a wide range of frames on political issues. The public sphere is a concept developed by Jürgen Habermas, which specifies that in its optimal form, the media would function as an integral part of the ‘political consciousness and a vibrant site of resistance’ (Marden 89) to ‘common sense’ political discourse, where the public can hear all views on an issue. Obviously the media can never present all views on an issue, but presenting an animal rights as well as an animal welfare frame when it covers human/non-human relations means that the issue can be understood in a broader manner. In this article, a content analysis of the Four Corners episode ‘A Bloody Business’ and the subsequent media coverage will be carried out. This will determine the extent to which the dominant or hegemonic frame of animal welfare was advanced and also the extent to which the counter-hegemonic frame of animal rights was included.