The communication of West Nile virus risk: a newspaper analysis

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Watts, Dorian E.
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The purpose of this research was to understand how the risks associated with West Nile virus (WNV) were presented by the Winnipeg Free Press. A detailed content analysis was completed on all Winnipeg Free Press articles and Manitoba Health news releases, between 1999 and 2008, containing information related to West Nile. Additional data included interviews with government and media representatives. Several recurring frames, including blame, controversy, rights and fairness, risk, and uncertainty were found in the newspaper data. Over time there was a decrease in both the coverage and prominence of WNV-related issues by the Winnipeg Free Press. In terms of the use of sources by media, the provincial government was found to be the most commonly used source in this context. Reporting of WNV-related issues by the Winnipeg Free Press has been relatively clear and balanced despite some initial alarmist coverage surrounding the uncertainty of the arrival of WNV.
Infectious Disease, Media Analysis, Content Analysis, Framing