TITLE

Communicating uncertainty - how Australian television reported H1N1 risk in 2009: a content analysis

AUTHOR(S)
Fogarty, Andrea S.; Holland, Kate; Imison, Michelle; Blood, R. Warwick; Chapman, Simon; Holding, Simon
PUB. DATE
January 2011
SOURCE
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p181
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Background: Health officials face particular challenges in communicating with the public about emerging infectious diseases of unknown severity such as the 2009 H1N1(swine 'flu) pandemic (pH1N1). Statements intended to create awareness and convey the seriousness of infectious disease threats can draw accusations of scaremongering, while officials can be accused of complacency if such statements are not made. In these communication contexts, news journalists, often reliant on official sources to understand issues are pivotal in selecting and emphasising aspects of official discourse deemed sufficiently newsworthy to present to the public. This paper presents a case-study of news communication regarding the emergence of pH1N1. Methods: We conducted a content analysis of all television news items about pH1N1. We examined news and current affairs items broadcast on 5 free-to-air Sydney television channels between April 25 2009 (the first report) and October 9 (prior to the vaccine release) for statements about [1] the seriousness of the disease [2] how the public could minimise contagion [3] government responses to emerging information. Results: pH1N1 was the leading health story for eight of 24 weeks and was in the top 5 for 20 weeks. 353 news items were identified, yielding 3086 statements for analysis, with 63.4% related to the seriousness of the situation, 12.9% providing advice for viewers and 23.6% involving assurances from government. Coverage focused on infection/mortality rates, the spread of the virus, the need for public calm, the vulnerability of particular groups, direct and indirect advice for viewers, and government reassurances about effective management. Conclusions: Overall, the reporting of 2009 pH1N1 in Sydney, Australia was generally non-alarmist, while conveying that pH1N1 was potentially serious. Daily infection rate tallies and commentary on changes in the pandemic alert level were seldom contextualised to assist viewers in understanding personal relevance. Suggestions are made about how future reporting of emerging infectious diseases could be enhanced.
ACCESSION #
60407191

 

Related Articles

  • When Pictures Waste a Thousand Words: Analysis of the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic on Television News Luth, Westerly; Jardine, Cindy; Bubela, Tania // PLoS ONE;May2013, Vol. 8 Issue 5, p1 

    Objectives: Effective communication by public health agencies during a pandemic promotes the adoption of recommended health behaviours. However, more information is not always the solution. Rather, attention must be paid to how information is communicated. Our study examines the television news,...

  • WHAT IS TELEVISION STUDIES? King, Noel // Framework: The Journal of Cinema & Media;1984, Issue 25, p111 

    The article discusses various reports in this issue, including one by Jeanne Allen on the way it took 20 years to implement television and another by Robert Stam on television news.

  • DISEASE DETECTIVES. Crane, Cody // Science World;10/5/2009, Vol. 66 Issue 3, p12 

    No abstract available.

  • Swine flu hits Fresno County turkey farm.  // Business Journal Serving Fresno & the Central San Joaquin Valley;1/8/2010, Issue 325125, p1 

    No abstract available.

  • Wild Hogs.  // Edgewood Enterprise (TX);5/7/2009, Vol. 102 Issue 18, p4 

    The article focuses on the involvement of domestic and wild swine in the spread of swine influenza.

  • Censorship: Ill Advised. Yanusik, Alyaksandr // Transitions Online;11/30/2009, p1 

    The article reports on the impact of official information on swine influenza outbreak and related deaths on the public in Minsk, Belarus. The main contributing factor of why people ignore official reports and turn to other sources is the difference between official statements and reality....

  • Swine Flu Now on the Edge of a Pandemic.  // Grand Saline Sun (TX);4/30/2009, Vol. 113 Issue 17, p8 

    The article reports on several tips on how to protect ones self from Swine flu pandemic including the need to wash ones hands frequently, to avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth before washing thoroughly the hands, and to get plenty of sleep, exercise, drink fluids and to eat will.

  • Swine Flu (H1N1/09)-An Interim Assessment. Peters, Georg // Deutsches Aerzteblatt International;11/20/2009, Vol. 106 Issue 47, p1 

    The article discusses various reports published within the issue, including one by Winzer and colleagues on the clinical report about the patients infected with influenza A (H1N1) in Germany, one by Kumar and colleagues on the implications of gender and ethnicity in the prevalence of influenza A...

  • CME Questions.  // Infectious Disease Alert;Jan2010, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p46 

    A quiz about infectious diseases including antiretroviral therapy, influenza A H1N1 virus and antibiotic prophylaxis for dental surgery in patients with prosthetic joints is presented.

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of VIRGINIA BEACH PUBLIC LIBRARY AND SYSTEM

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics