Food tube: Coverage of food safety issues through video

A couple of ag journalism types from Nebraska and Ohio State have the right idea — although I’m not sure it’s completely executed — in a new paper examining the role of YouTube videos in food safety.

Emily Rhoades and Jason D. Ellis write in the Journal of Food Safety that food safety in restaurants is an increasing concern among consumers. A primary population segment working in foodservice is receiving food safety information through new media channels such as video social network websites. This research used content analysis to examine the purpose and messages of food safety-related videos posted to YouTube. A usable sample of 76 videos was identified using “food safety” in the YouTube search function. Results indicate that videos must be artfully developed to attract YouTube users while conveying a credible and educational message. Communicators must also monitor new media for competing messages being viewed by target audiences and devise strategies to counter such messages. This one-time snapshot of how food safety was portrayed on YouTube suggests that the intended purpose of videos, whether educational or entertainment, is not as relevant as the perceived purpose and the message being received by viewers.

I have no idea what this means. There’s a lot of BS in the paper about where foodborne illness happens and how consumers are motivated and the authors seem hopelessly stuck in the educational framework. But at least they are looking at different media. Too bad the message sucks.

Marshall McLuhan had it right when he said that those who try to distinguish between entertainment and education don’t know the first thing about either.