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Health Secur. 2018 May/Jun;16(3):147-157. doi: 10.1089/hs.2017.0106. Epub 2018 Jun 5.

Coverage of Epidemics in American Newspapers Through the Lens of the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Framework.

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Yotam Ophir, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) framework has been used by the organization during recent outbreaks of infectious diseases. However, the dissemination of the organization's crisis messages depends largely on mass media coverage. This study analyzed 5,006 articles from leading American newspapers covering 3 epidemics: H1N1, Ebola, and Zika. Using a mixed method of automated and manual content analysis, it identified 3 distinct themes used to cover the diseases: pandemic, scientific, and social. Analysis of the themes based on CERC guidelines demonstrated substantial discrepancies between what CDC aims to communicate during epidemics and what the media actually disseminated to the public. Implications for public health organizations and communicators are discussed.


Epidemic management/response; Risk communication

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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