Risk and Responsibility: Insider and Outsider Media Representations of the 2014 Ebola Outbreak
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In the wake of global infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS, scholars have acknowledged the growing role of media during public health emergencies. Lacking, however, is a discussion on how media perspectives vary depending on geographic location. Drawing on a qualitative content analysis of over 200 articles, this study explores how the 2014 Ebola outbreak was written about in two national print media sources: The Globe and Mail (Canada) and the Vanguard (Nigeria). Each news outlet had their own conception of infectious diseases. This translated into different understandings of the perceived risks of the Ebola virus. An analysis of themes concerning borders, risk and responsibility revealed the threshold nature of Ebola, which is not only a biomedical reality but also a social one. This study contributes to existing literature on the role of media during epidemics. By investigating the way media have framed this particular outbreak, it highlights how decisions of governments, media and individuals are tempered by perceptions of risk as well as economic and political demands.