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Our issue or their issue? Media coverage and framing of the Zika virus epidemic

journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-14, 00:00 authored by Thomas JamiesonThomas Jamieson, JJC Rivera
How does the news media respond to health emergencies abroad? Between 2015 and 2018, Zika virus spread rapidly throughout Latin America before arriving in the continental United States. Despite the risks to adults and newborns, it is unclear how media coverage developed and framed the threat for its audience. In this paper, we argue that while the frequency of coverage was responsive to infections, its content failed to promote proactive health behaviour. To assess these claims, we analyse each of 442 articles dealing with Zika virus published by The New York Times from 2015–18. We find that the amount of coverage reflected infections but did not change once the disease emerged in the US. Furthermore, content analysis using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software reveals that coverage emphasised differences between communities (those affected and those at home) and that present and past time orientations dominated coverage as opposed to future time orientations.

History

Preferred citation

Jamieson, T. & Rivera, J. J. C. (2022). Our issue or their issue? Media coverage and framing of the Zika virus epidemic. Disasters, 46(3), 677-699. https://doi.org/10.1111/disa.12497

Journal title

Disasters

Volume

46

Issue

3

Publication date

2022-07-01

Pagination

677-699

Publisher

Wiley

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

2022-05-03

ISSN

0361-3666

eISSN

1467-7717

Language

en