When the media gets it wrong, the world needs to understand
MEDIA REVIEWED 2/10 A new study claims to show how ‘sadistic’ the media is about Ebola.
The study by researchers at Duke University claims that “the media are often too harsh, too dismissive, too uncritical, and too hostile” towards those who are caught up in the epidemic.
But what’s really disturbing is that the media are not only willing to go there, but they’re willing to use the media to spread misinformation about the disease.
READ MORE: The article was originally published on 8 October 2016.
The article has been amended to remove references to ‘sick and infected’ in the original article.
Duke University The Duke University study is titled: “The Media and Public Health in an Ebola Outbreak: The Role of Media Exposure and Response” and it was published in the Journal of Public Health Communication.
Its abstract reads: “This article explores how the media can shape public health responses to public health crises in the Ebola outbreak by examining the media’s coverage of the outbreak and its public health consequences.
We find that the Ebola media coverage can shape the way the media presents and presents Ebola responses.
Specifically, media coverage of Ebola media is characterized by an extreme focus on the media as a ‘source of public health information’.
Media coverage of media exposure and response is not only associated with the negative social consequences of media, but also with the increased likelihood of spreading misinformation about Ebola.”
It is the second study to examine the impact of media coverage on public health.
In February, a study by the National Institutes of Health found that the amount of time spent on social media by Americans during the Ebola pandemic was similar to the amount spent on Facebook.
However, the authors concluded that “a more comprehensive assessment of the impact and potential implications of the media on public policy in the event of an Ebola pandemium is needed”.
“The public’s awareness of the pandemic has reached a critical mass,” said Dr Michael Paternoster, a professor of media and communication at the University of New Mexico and one of the authors of the study.
“While many of us may not be in the middle of an outbreak right now, the public is very aware of the Ebola threat and has begun to act.
This study is an important first step toward helping the public understand the Ebola virus.”
‘Virus’ of Ebola A key question is how media coverage has affected the spread of the virus.
“It’s not clear whether media coverage alone is responsible for this outbreak or whether it’s also part of the underlying climate of fear that is driving this outbreak,” Paternoster said.
“But one of our main concerns is that a media coverage that focuses too much on the virus, focusing on the ‘virus’ as the virus is portrayed, is likely to reinforce the public’s negative views of the disease and thus increase the risk of transmission.”
The study did find that people who watched the Ebola coverage were more likely to be infected with Ebola.
However it also found that people with more positive views of Ebola were less likely to have an infection.
“This is an encouraging finding, but it is important to note that our data do not show that the negative coverage is related to the number of infected individuals,” the researchers wrote.
“Our results do not indicate that the coverage of these negative stories increases the likelihood of people being infected.”
The media is a “major contributor” to the spread “Of the two factors that are related to this spread, the negative Ebola coverage is likely the more important, since it is associated with more negative media coverage and the increased risk of infection,” the authors wrote.
The researchers found that “people who watch media coverage about Ebola are also more likely than others to have positive Ebola attitudes, and the negative media about Ebola is more likely when positive media coverage is low.”
In other words, positive media about the spread, positive Ebola views, and positive media reporting about the virus all contribute to the Ebola contagion.
The media are “the key influencers of public attitudes” in the spread The study authors argued that the way we respond to Ebola in the US and around the world “is a key contributor” in creating “an environment where people will become more open and accepting about the risk and the benefits of Ebola”.
“Our findings suggest that the ‘infectious risk’ is not the ‘negative’ but the ‘positive’ Ebola story in the media,” they wrote.
This is because “positive media coverage also conveys a strong negative image of the situation, which in turn creates a climate of uncertainty about the ‘safety’ of the epidemic.”
It’s not just the media that is affected by the Ebola crisis.
“The media are a major contributor to the spreading of the viral pandemic,” the study said.
A further study, published by the journal PLoS Medicine, suggests that the “positive Ebola narrative” may actually be driving people to more risky behaviors.
The paper, titled “The Ebola media contagion and the spread: An exploratory meta-