Delivering the Scary News: Newspaper Sourcing in a Bioterrorism Crisis

Kristen Alley Swain 1 *
More Detail
1 University of Mississippi, USA
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp. 29-56. https://doi.org/10.29333/ojcmt/2378
OPEN ACCESS   1453 Views   852 Downloads   Published online: 24 Apr 2012
Download Full Text (PDF)

ABSTRACT

This study examines patterns in news sourcing and play, in light of risk communication factors. A content analysis of 457 U.S. newspaper stories about the 2001 anthrax attacks revealed that more stories included outrage rhetoric than risk explanations. Stories containing uncertainty factors appeared more often during the impact phase than any other crisis phase. The more sources a story used, the less likely it was to include vague advice and explanations. The more play that a story received, the less likely it was to include explanations. Health agency and law enforcement officials dominated the coverage, while scientists, victims, and citizens were quoted least often. Stories quoting experts received higher play than stories quoting non-experts. A relatively large proportion of stories quoted unnamed sources, only one source, or non-experts, indicating a lack of access to authoritative interview sources, especially during the outbreak and impact phases of the crisis.

CITATION

Swain, K. A. (2012). Delivering the Scary News: Newspaper Sourcing in a Bioterrorism Crisis. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 2(2), 29-56. https://doi.org/10.29333/ojcmt/2378