Media, Health Risk, and Public Perception: Agenda Setting in West Nile Virus Outbreak

March, 2011

Eun-Ho Yeo, professor of communication studies

How do media depict health risk issues? How do media’s depictions of health risk issues influence our perceptions? Media and health risk researchers have been eager to find answers to these questions. By analyzing media’s depictions of the West Nile Virus issue, and by comparing word association patterns in the media with those in people’s perceptions, the author provides an insight into the relationship between media and our perception concerning health risk issues.

Author Yeo was a doctoral student studying communication theories at Cornell University during the 1999 West Nile Virus outbreak in the New York area. “It caught my attention immediately because it provided a wonderful opportunity to examine how media lead or structure our perceptions of something that we are unfamiliar with,” he says. “I hope readers will find [it] an interesting example, or empirical evidence, of how media and our perceptions are connected.” (Text from the book’s back cover.)

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