From press release to news: mapping the framing of the 2009 H1N1 A influenza pandemic

Health Commun. 2013;28(2):119-32. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2012.658550. Epub 2012 Mar 22.


Pandemics challenge conventional assumptions about health promotion, message development, community engagement, and the role of news media. To understand the use of press releases in news coverage of pandemics, this study traces the development of framing devices from a government public health agency's press releases to news stories about the 2009 H1N1 A influenza pandemic. The communication management of the H1N1 pandemic, an international news event with local implications, by the Singapore government is a rich locus for understanding the dynamics of public relations, health communication, and journalism. A content analysis shows that the evolution of information from press release to news is marked by significant changes in media frames, including the expansion and diversification in dominant frames and emotion appeals, stronger thematic framing, more sources of information, conversion of loss frames into gain frames, and amplification of positive tone favoring the public health agency's position. Contrary to previous research that suggests that government information subsidies passed almost unchanged through media gatekeepers, the news coverage of the pandemic reflects journalists' selectivity in disseminating the government press releases and in mediating the information flow and frames from the press releases.

MeSH terms

  • Government Agencies
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Mass Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pandemics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health
  • Singapore / epidemiology