Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

Media Coverage of a Global Pandemic in Japan: Content Analysis of A/ H1N1 Influenza Newspaper Articles


Mio Kato, Hirono Ishikawa and Takahiro Kiuchi

A/H1N1 emerged in Mexico in the spring of 2009, rapidly and globally spread, and was classed as a pandemic on June 11, 2009. In Japan, national newspapers are trusted by the public and have large subscription rates and play a major role in crisis communication. During crisis, it is for readers to receive information on not only factual data like prevalence or death but also the preventive measures which each individual can take. This research aims to explore what topics and how much the Japanese national newspapers covered the global pandemic and whether they provided the preventive measures for individuals. We analyzed Japanese newspaper coverage of the A/H1N1 pandemic using content analysis of 2,237 articles published in three national newspapers between March 2009 and May 2010. The articles peaked in May 2009 when the first possible case was found in Japan. In this period, most articles cited health authorities as the information source. The number of articles did not correspond to prevalence or number of deaths. Content analysis found that the national newspapers reported more factual information, while information about preventive measures was less frequently reported despite its importance for the public.


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