Epidemics, Fears and the Mass Media: An Analysis of the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Nigeria.
Abstract This paper proposes that the increasing rate of anxieties and fears which literature reveals as characteristic of most severe outbreak of d...
This paper proposes that the increasing rate of anxieties and fears which literature reveals as characteristic of most severe outbreak of diseases can be significantly mitigated if the monitorial, facilitative and collaborative roles of the media as posited by Christians et al. (2009) are effectively taken up prior to, during and after such outbreaks. Drawing specifically on the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria and Vanguard’s coverage of the outbreak, this paper establishes the place of fears during epidemics while arguing that even though fears and epidemics cannot be said to be mutually exclusive, the excessive anxieties and fears that characterise most outbreaks can be lessened. This paper, embedded within the qualitative research design, employs a case study approach and an integrative review of academic literature and relevant reports on Ebola Virus Disease. The paper suggests the need for conscious and deliberate partnership between the mainstream media, outbreak response teams and all stakeholders while also outlining the need for the mass media to be incorporated as primary stakeholders in outbreak and risk communications if anxieties and fears must be lessened during epidemics.
Key Words: Epidemics, Fears, Mass Media, Ebola Virus Disease
*Olutobi Akingbade is a Ph.D. Candidate/Teaching Assistant, School of Journalism and Media Studies Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.
AMCRON Journal of Communication and Media Research, Vol. 10, No. 2, October 2018: 139 – 148