A recent study finds that The New York Times and the entertainment industry have played a major role in making the word “drug” synonymous with Colombia.
The study, conducted by David Bockino, an assistant professor at the School of Communications at Elon University, revealed that for more than three decades the Times and entertainment content—produced mostly by Hollywood-based producers and directors—rampantly used the word “drugs” along with the South American country’s name.
The study analyzed more than 10,000 headlines and more than 2,600 plot summaries available on The New York Times and IMDb.com from 1980 to 2013. Among its findings: The word “drug” was mentioned in 15.5% of all headlines and in 20.8% of all plot summaries that also contained the word Colombia.
The study also found that Colombia ranked fourth among South American countries in Times headlines in the study’s time frame. The top three were Brazil, Argentina, and Peru.
A total of 1,320 headlines associated with Colombia appeared in the Times, 204 associated with the word “drug.”
The study also found a strong positive correlation between the number of times words “Colombia” and “drug” were mentioned in New York Times headlines and the number of times they were mentioned in plot summaries on IMDb.com, a website that offers the plot summaries and other information about TV shows, movies, documentaries, and other entertainment.
Bockino, D. (2019). Narcos addiction: A three-decade content analysis of the representation of Colombia in The New York Times and on IMDb.com. Newspaper Research Journal, 40(4), 504–516. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739532919873077