Diseases in the Tabloids: Mapping Newspaper Narratives on Lassa Fever Epidemic in Nigeria

Joshua Aghogho Erubami, Patience Elohor Oziwele, Edith Ugochi Ohaja, Martins Ndubisi Ezugwu, Uchenna Chijindu Anorue


Lassa fever is a recurrent endemic disease in Nigeria with increasing seroprevalence in many parts of the country. In the absence of effective preventive vaccines, the mass media are being deployed as independent and complementary interventions to sensitise the public on appropriate measures for mitigating the spread of the disease. This study evaluates the different coverage patterns and frames that dominate newspaper narratives on Lassa fever epidemic in Nigeria. Multistage sampling technique was used to select 420 editions of six leading Nigerian newspapers published between January 2015 and December 2019. Findings showed that although the epidemic was frequently mentioned in newspaper articles, its coverage was mainly episodic with little media prominence, and its framing was too inadequate to compel the desired public health response. Hence, the study recommends that journalists and newspaper editors must dutifully engage in the publication of Lassa fever outbreak preparedness articles to significantly curb the spread of the disease in Nigeria.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v9i2.5414


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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