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Mapping and characterising changes to risk amplification within the British Press: 1985-2017

Burgess, Adam, Rooke, Martin (2021) Mapping and characterising changes to risk amplification within the British Press: 1985-2017. Journal of Risk Research, 25 (3). pp. 303-316. ISSN 1366-9877. E-ISSN 1466-4461. (doi:10.1080/13669877.2021.1881993) (KAR id:88224)

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British news media were central to the amplification of health risk concerns in the late 1990s and early 2000s such as mobile phone radiation, genetically modified foods and the MMR vaccine, which made an international impact. Few comparable examples seemed to follow, suggesting this was a distinctive period of risk amplification. This impression was investigated both qualitatively and quantitatively. Content analyses were conducted on a corpus of British risk reporting (n = 63,423) from across the range of daily national newspapers. Quantitative content analysis investigated changes to the volume of risk-based news publication, alongside the expression of sensationalist and politicising language. The qualitative content analysis utilised a rhetorical framing analysis to explore the changes to risk amplifying news frames across a sample of highly amplified news stories (n = 1490). The framing analysis sought to investigate temporal changes to the expression of uncertainty, certainty, blame, trust, stigma and dread within risk reporting. We found evidence that there was an early peak period and subsequent waning of amplification. Further, we identified four distinct periods of risk reporting which are elaborated in the paper: a period of low risk amplification between 1985-1994; a second period of high-risk amplification between 1995-2004; a third period of low but distinct amplification between 2005-2014; and an ongoing contemporary and more speculatively defined period from 2015 of higher amplification.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13669877.2021.1881993
Uncontrolled keywords: risk amplification, British press, framing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Adam Burgess
Date Deposited: 17 May 2021 16:48 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Burgess, Adam.

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Rooke, Martin.

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