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The Mediated Amplification of a Crisis: Communicating the A/H1N1 Pandemic in Press Releases and Press Coverage in Europe


  • Constanze Rossmann
  • Lisa Meyer
  • Peter J. Schulz


In the aftermath of the A/H1N1 pandemic, health authorities were criticized for failures in crisis communication efforts, and the media were accused of amplifying the pandemic. Considering these criticisms, A/H1N1 provides a suitable case for examining risk amplification processes that may occur in the transfer of information from press releases to print news media during a health crisis. We integrated the social amplification of risk framework with theories of news decisions (news values, framing) in an attempt to contribute to existing research both theoretically and empirically. We conducted a quantitative content analysis of press releases disseminated by health and governmental authorities, as well as the quality and tabloid press in 10 European countries between March 2009 and March 2011. Altogether 243 press releases, 1,243 quality press articles, and 834 tabloid press articles were coded. Consistent with research on news values and framing the results suggest that quality and tabloid papers alike amplified A/H1N1 risks by emphasizing conflict and damage, presenting information in a more dramatized way, and using risk‐amplifying frames to a greater extent and risk‐attenuating frames to a lesser extent than press releases. To some extent, the quality and tabloid press differed in how risk information was presented. While tabloid press articles seemed to follow the leading quality press with regards to content and framing of health crisis coverage, they exhibited a stronger emphasis on drama and emotion in the way they presented information.

Suggested Citation

  • Constanze Rossmann & Lisa Meyer & Peter J. Schulz, 2018. "The Mediated Amplification of a Crisis: Communicating the A/H1N1 Pandemic in Press Releases and Press Coverage in Europe," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 38(2), pages 357-375, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:riskan:v:38:y:2018:i:2:p:357-375
    DOI: 10.1111/risa.12841

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roxanne E. Lewis & Michael G. Tyshenko, 2009. "The Impact of Social Amplification and Attenuation of Risk and the Public Reaction to Mad Cow Disease in Canada," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 29(5), pages 714-728, May.
    2. Lynn J. Frewer & Susan Miles & Roy Marsh, 2002. "The Media and Genetically Modified Foods: Evidence in Support of Social Amplification of Risk," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 22(4), pages 701-711, August.
    3. Roger E. Kasperson & Ortwin Renn & Paul Slovic & Halina S. Brown & Jacque Emel & Robert Goble & Jeanne X. Kasperson & Samuel Ratick, 1988. "The Social Amplification of Risk: A Conceptual Framework," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 8(2), pages 177-187, June.
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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Swine Influenza (H1N1)
    2. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Policy responses


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    Cited by:

    1. Comrie, E.L. & Burns, C. & Coulson, A.B. & Quigley, J. & Quigley, K.F., 2019. "Rationalising the use of Twitter by official organisations during risk events: Operationalising the Social Amplification of Risk Framework through causal loop diagrams," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 272(2), pages 792-801.

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