Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Poster Number

75

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Masters

Abstract Category

Global Health

Keywords

Message frames; framing; risk communication; health emergency; Liberia

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

The Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa in 2014 with over 11,000 deaths made headlines worldwide, causing fear and posing a challenge to traditional media, entrusted with the task of reporting about the spread of the disease. Individuals and communities rely on media to obtain health information, including decisions related to disease prevention and behavior to protect their health. Therefore, frames used by the media to report about health emergencies impact public perceptions. Mass media framing during crises has been associated with emotional and behavioral responses that are consistent with the thematic depiction of unfolding events. Moreover, message frames can influence the weight assigned to specific viewpoints and alter the importance given to particular concerns, potentially leading to enhancement of selective information in the public’s consciousness and heightened awareness.

This study assessed the types of message frames used by media in Liberia in the midst of the epidemic. The methodology is based on a quantitative content analysis of 745 news articles from three major Liberian newspapers and 182 audio files from seven local radio stations and programs from January 2014 through December 2015. A theory-driven codebook based on risk communication frameworks was developed and intercoder reliability scores of K≥.85 attained by all six members of the coding team.

Results show an emphasis on particular frames by channel. The four main journalistic frames of radio messaging were behavioral steps (47.8%), anti-stigmatizing (10.8%), victim (9%), and blame directed toward the Liberian government (4.8%). In newspaper articles, “hero frame” was the most frequently used (38.8%), followed by disaster frame (20.7%), behavioral steps to address the crisis (10.9%), victim frame (9%), and blame (8%). Achieving a better understanding of frames utilized in Ebola-related communication as the crisis was unfolding provides the opportunity to identify and evaluate the presence (or lack thereof) of risk communication best practices. This in turn has the potential to inform future risk-communication efforts to address health emergencies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

1

Comments

Poster presented at GW Annual Research Days 2017.

Images have been removed from the original poster.

 

Victims or Heroes? How Did Journalists Frame the Ebola Crisis in Liberia?

The Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa in 2014 with over 11,000 deaths made headlines worldwide, causing fear and posing a challenge to traditional media, entrusted with the task of reporting about the spread of the disease. Individuals and communities rely on media to obtain health information, including decisions related to disease prevention and behavior to protect their health. Therefore, frames used by the media to report about health emergencies impact public perceptions. Mass media framing during crises has been associated with emotional and behavioral responses that are consistent with the thematic depiction of unfolding events. Moreover, message frames can influence the weight assigned to specific viewpoints and alter the importance given to particular concerns, potentially leading to enhancement of selective information in the public’s consciousness and heightened awareness.

This study assessed the types of message frames used by media in Liberia in the midst of the epidemic. The methodology is based on a quantitative content analysis of 745 news articles from three major Liberian newspapers and 182 audio files from seven local radio stations and programs from January 2014 through December 2015. A theory-driven codebook based on risk communication frameworks was developed and intercoder reliability scores of K≥.85 attained by all six members of the coding team.

Results show an emphasis on particular frames by channel. The four main journalistic frames of radio messaging were behavioral steps (47.8%), anti-stigmatizing (10.8%), victim (9%), and blame directed toward the Liberian government (4.8%). In newspaper articles, “hero frame” was the most frequently used (38.8%), followed by disaster frame (20.7%), behavioral steps to address the crisis (10.9%), victim frame (9%), and blame (8%). Achieving a better understanding of frames utilized in Ebola-related communication as the crisis was unfolding provides the opportunity to identify and evaluate the presence (or lack thereof) of risk communication best practices. This in turn has the potential to inform future risk-communication efforts to address health emergencies.

 

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