Whistleblowers and their faith in journalism: The (d)evolution of trust among the sources that journalists need most

Abstract: Using in-depth interviews conducted with 12 U.S. whistleblowers  who contacted the press in the 1970s through the 2010s, this paper examines changing perceptions of the news media and journalists among those who have confided in them and how these views have evolved. I find that trust in individual journalists, more so than in the news organizations they work for, is a consistent theme among all participants. Of all norms, source protection is most valued, followed closely by diligence and the willingness to listen and accept the whistleblower as subject matter expert. While all interviewees believed in the news media as an institution with impact when they blew the whistle, almost all of them expressed a profound lack of faith in today’s press to bring about change, some blaming this on the corporatization of the industry along with a rise in what they call agenda-driven reporting. As austerity measures take hold in newsrooms across the country, this study shines a light on what we stand to lose when newsrooms neglect specialization and beat reporting.

Telling the Tale: The Role of Narratives in Helping People Respond to Crises.

Brooke Liu, Lucinda Austin, Yen-I Lee, Yan Jin, and Seoyeon Kim. (Forthcoming). “Telling the Tale: The Role of Narratives in Helping People Respond to Crises.” Journal of Applied Communication Research.

Abstract: During public health crises like infectious disease outbreaks, news media and governments are responsible for informing the public about how to protect themselves. A large body of health communication research finds that persuasive narratives motivate protective behaviors, such as intentions to vaccinate. In their seminal book on crisis narratives, Seeger and Sellnow (2016) theorized five narrative types: blame, renewal, victim, hero, and memorial. In this study, we tested how the public responds to crisis narratives about a hypothetical infectious disease crisis, modelled after narratives emerging from the 2014-2016 Ebola pandemic, through an online experiment with a U.S. adult sample (N = 1,050). Findings showcase which crisis narratives positively affect public protective behaviors as well as emotional responses, assessments of information credibility, and attributions of crisis responsibility.

Lügenpresse: The lying press and German journalists’ responses to a stigma.

Abstract: The term Lügenpresse, ‘lying press’, was used by the German National Socialist Party before and during the Third Reich to discredit the news media and to undermine public trust. By 2014, reports of verbal and physical attacks on journalists and news organizations by individuals calling them Lügenpresse, had again become a frequent feature of the public discourse in Germany. While the term ‘fake news’ is used to similar effect and intent in the United States, Lügenpresse is a historically and politically charged expression of distrust in news media on an institutional level. This research examines the responses and institutional strategies of 27 news editors and executive editors in Germany’s leading broadcast, print and online news organizations to the accusations that they are lying to their audiences. Findings indicate that the reemergence of the term Lügenpresse, has led to considerable self-reflection within institutions, in an effort to counter the lack of trust and to demonstratively better serve the public. The main focus across newsrooms is on improving established processes and on making professional standards and practices more visible to the audience.

Image Repair in the Aftermath of Inaccurate Polling: How the News Media Responded to Getting It Wrong in 1948 and 2016

Abstract: The US presidential elections of 1948 and 2016 produced surprise outcomes when the predicted winners ended up losing the election. Using image repair theory, this article explains the strategies the media used to repair their image in light of predicting the wrong winner. Using a qualitative analysis of news coverage that immediately followed the 1948 and 2016 presidential elections, this study finds that the media utilized similar image repair strategies of offering explanations for poor information, highlighting the media’s good reporting, diminishing the harm caused by the inaccurate predictions, and justifying the inaccurate predictions of both elections. However, the media responses in 1948 and 2016 differed greatly in tone and in the utilization of a new attack strategy to deflect criticism of the media itself. These strategies suggest that media use of image restoration is limited because of the unique societal expectations placed on the press, and that the media’s inaccurate 2016 predictions and subsequent attack strategies may have been contributed to the heightened criticism of mainstream news.

Media Science and Practice

Abstract: Given their influence and visibility, understanding how news media cover topics involving medicines and how they provide information to their target audiences is essential when it comes to medicinal product risk communication research. While information about health and medicine are found in entertainment and social media, this chapter introduces media science with a focus, albeit not exclusively, on journalist-based news media.  It presents an overview of relevant theories as well as methods that academics, government agencies, professional societies and pharmaceutical companies can use to understand communication flows in the media and their potential effects. Particularly, it reviews in more depth, the methodological aspects of content analyses as well as discusses research approaches, including those involving journalists, which could be used to guide or strengthen medicinal product risk communication. Media science-based research can inform the preparations of communication strategies and materials; and studying what is actually happening in the news media is relevant to establishing communication models and evaluating communication interventions in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Otherization of Africa: How American media framed people with HIV/AIDS in Africa from 1987 to 2017.

Abstract: This study examined otherization framing of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa in American print news from 1987-2007. The results of a content analysis of a representative sample of news articles from three outlets (N=421) show that American media overwhelmingly used otherization frames throughout the 20-year period, resulting in a large percentage of negatively toned coverage in American newspaper reporting of the topic on the African continent. The study represents the first attempt to quantify otherization framing of Africa in HIV/AIDS context. The implications for international reporting and theory are discussed.

Constructing an image of the United States in the British and French editorials about WikiLeaks

Abstract: In today’s globalized world a country’s image is an important consideration because it can influence that country’s politics and economy (Shimko, 1991;Viosca et al., 2005). Scholars have noted that the news media are considered to be major players in creating national images and swaying public perception of foreign countries (Entman, 2008; Golan & Lee, 2004). The present study examined United States’ image typologies in news editorials in Britain and France. Using image theory as a theoretical foundation, this present study employed in-depth qualitative thematic analysis of editorials in The Guardian and Le Monde covering the release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. The overarching U.S. image revealed by editorials did not exactly fit in with the normative images of ally, enemy, complex, imperialist, and colonial/dependent. It did, however, approach the complex image that entailed elements of the ally and imperial image.

Inadequate and incomplete: Chinese newspapers’ coverage of the first licensed human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in China

Abstract: Glaxo Smith Kline’s Cervarix was the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine licensed for use in China in July 2016 and officially launched there on July 31, 2017. Since news media content can influence people’s vaccine-related knowledge, understanding, and intentions, a content analysis was used to examine the information conveyed to the public about the HPV vaccine by Chinese newspapers before the 2017 immunization recommendation for women 25 years old and younger. A total of 253 articles published from 2000 to 2016 met the inclusion criteria and were coded. The results showed that HPV and the HPV vaccine received very little newspaper coverage in China both before and after vaccine licensure. Most of the coverage, including after licensure, came from China Party press newspapers, with the stories predominantly using thematic rather than episodic framing. Thematic framing was also prevalent in City press newspapers. Application of the Health Belief Model to the content analysis revealed benefits, self-efficacy, and cues to action were found in most news stories. Overall, given the relative lack of Chinese newspaper coverage, public health officials and health care providers in China should assume most people, including those for whom HPV vaccination is recommended, have little or no knowledge about HPV, HPV vaccine, and the reasons for the vaccination recommendation. If news media are to be a source of HPV information for the Chinese public, significant efforts will be needed to increase attention.

Partisanship, Individual Differences, and News Media Exposure as Predictors of Conspiracy Beliefs

Abstract: Conspiracy theories are woven into America’s social and political fabric. While such beliefs help some individuals organize their political world, their popularity also raises concerns about the health of a democracy when those governed also suspect powerful forces work against their interests. The research here examines national survey data to demonstrate such beliefs have both partisan and individual difference explanations. Generic news media exposure offers little explanatory power, but exposure to Fox News programming predicts greater belief in theories critical of Democrats.