Help Yourself: The Individualization of Responsibility in Current Health Journalism
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHågvar, Alnæs: Help Yourself: The Individualization of Responsibility in Current Health Journalism. In: Hornmoen H, Fonn BK, Hyde-Clarke N, Hågvar YB. Media Health. The Personal in Public Stories, 2020. Universitetsforlaget https://doi.org/10.18261/9788215040844-2020-3
Who is responsible when you get sick? Doctors, who can treat you with superior knowledge? Politicians, who have designed the welfare services? Yourself, who should take steps to live a healthy lifestyle? Or perhaps illness is largely a matter of genetics and coincidence and therefore not a question of responsibility at all? Health journalism plays an important role in constructing such ideas of responsibility. This chapter explores how the Norwegian tabloids VG and Dagbladet present health issues verbally and visually on their print front pages and in their Facebook feeds. Through quantitative and qualitative content analysis, we find that the print front pages address the readers as individuals who ought to take certain actions to stay healthy. The Facebook feeds, on the other hand, prioritize stories about health politics and other societal matters. One of the explanations for this difference may be that the news you pay for differs from the news you may share in social media. However, even the Facebook stories do not touch upon socioeconomic factors, genetic dispositions, or sheer coincidence as reasons for health problems. Instead, structural flaws are pinned to decisions made by particular politicians. As such, an overall discourse of individual responsibility is sustained on Facebook as well, while more overarching structural explanations do not find their way to our everyday news experiences.
Scandinavian University Press