Framing the Social Reality of COVID-19
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Beyond the health crisis itself, the COVID-19 pandemic has also given rise to a crisis of information, as public health authorities around the world scramble to control the flow of information about the evolving science of the disease, the interpretation of statistics on infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and the framing of restrictions on movements and gathering, often through the media. Unlike prior infectious disease outbreaks, COVID-19 provides a particularly intriguing area of research because it has affected virtually all parts of the globe. Drawing on a qualitative content analysis of 127 articles, this study explores how the misinformation problem and vaccine hesitancy was written in two national news media sources: The Globe and Mail (Canada) and The Hindu (India). While the two papers framed misinformation and vaccine hesitancy in similar ways, there were some key differences. Both focused on identifying the ‘right’ experts, understanding why people were not listening to the right experts, and what should be done to remedy the misinformation and vaccine hesitancy problem. In India disseminating reliable information to large remote and isolated populations were met with high rates of illiteracy while in Canada problems arose from increasing language barriers and the lack of culturally appropriate signage. The Hindu urged for transparency and accountability from public health authorities while there were no mentions of this in The Globe and Mail. By investigating how the media framed the misinformation and vaccine hesitancy problem, this thesis highlights how media attempt to inform and shape the behaviours and opinions of a population.