Framing risk: how the People's Daily and the Straits Times covered the 2003 SARS epidemic in China and Singapore

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Li, Qun
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication offers two majors: Advertising (instructing students in applied communication for work in business or industry), and Journalism and Mass Communication (instructing students in various aspects of news and information organizing, writing, editing, and presentation on various topics and in various platforms). The Department of Agricultural Journalism was formed in 1905 in the Division of Agriculture. In 1925 its name was changed to the Department of Technical Journalism. In 1969 its name changed to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; from 1969 to 1989 the department was directed by all four colleges, and in 1989 was placed under the direction of the College of Sciences and Humanities (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). In 1998 its name was changed to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
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Singapore and China are two countries hit hard by the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic (SARS) in 2003. This study investigates how the two nation's leading newspapers, the People's Daily (China) and the Straits Times (Singapore) covered the outbreak, and analyzed the risk communication strategies employed by the two governments in dealing with SARS. Using content analysis, this study found that the Singapore paper reported the epidemic early, was more transparent with its coverage, and relied more on the use of health, economic, human interest, risk and morality frames to discuss the epidemic. On the other hand, the People's Daily reported the threat late, hid the real national situation from its audiences, and employed more political and responsibility frames in its SARS reports. The two newspapers cited government officials and local health reports the most as sources of information in their discourse about SARS.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006