Measles, Media and Memory: Journalism ’s Role in Framing Collective Memory of Disease

This article offers a longitudinal case study of five decades of measles news coverage by theLos Angeles Times and theSan Francisco Chronicle, which represented two of the largest news markets in California when the measles vaccine was released, in 1963, and during the 2015 outbreak. Measles reporting during this period displays patterns pointing to an active role for journalists in shaping public understanding of health and medical matters, especially as they recede from public memory, through the employment of available and circulating political and cultural frames. Moreover, journalistic frames in this period of reporting incorporated presentist descriptions of the disease, which imposed present values on the medical past, and which were constructed of decontextualized historical references that supported prevailing contemporary notions of the disease. Framing and the tendency toward presentism, in the context of shifting public health discourse, had the effect of communicating an increasingly severe sounding disease over time, and of shifting blame for that disease ’s spread from nature to government to individuals. Journalistic framing and causal stories have much power to shape public understanding of medical matters as they recede from public memory.
Source: Journal of Medical Humanities - Category: Medical Ethics Source Type: research

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