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Study: Mainstream Media’s Biased Coverage of Monkeypox Contributed to False Messaging Affecting Treatment for Gay and Bisexual Men

A new study has found that mainstream media’s biased coverage of the monkeypox crisis contributed to false messaging which affected health prevention and treatment for gay and bisexual men.

The findings by Rachel Grant, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Journalism assistant professor, and Journalism senior Alan Halaly were featured in “Parallelling the Gay Man’s Trauma: Monkeypox Stigma and the Mainstream Media” published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry’s special issue on Sex and the Press on March 31.

The study examined how U.S. mainstream media perpetuated a stigma toward gay and bisexual men in its coverage of monkeypox in 2022. The study proposed the following questions: How did mainstream media outlets stigmatize men who have sex with men in their coverage of monkeypox in news coverage? How did communication trends shift or stay the same in later follow-up coverage once there was more nuanced understanding of the disease among official sources of information, quasi-official sources of information and journalists?

According to the authors, “In terms of public health communication, misinformation has resulted in real-life consequences, especially for marginalized communities. The media influences stereotypes, and power hierarchies maintain oppression and discrimination through language and word choice. We argue monkeypox virus news coverage positioned systemic negative ideologies around LGBTQ behavior. The impact of stigma sensationalized the ’otherness‘ across Westernized ideas of sexuality and health.”

They add, “In establishing a record of media coverage from this period, we contribute to the burgeoning and rapidly shifting areas of health communication, queer studies, and critical discourse studies. The results also illustrate a significant relationship between historical narratives of queer individuals and the systemic power structures that harm communities.”

Posted: April 2, 2024
Category: College News, Student News
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