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Sourcing practices in health news: the case of Viktor

Sarah Van Leuven (UGent) , Jana Declercq (UGent) , Thierry Christiaens (UGent) and Karin Raeymaeckers (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
This paper analyzes journalist-source relations in light of ongoing changes in the media landscape. On the one hand, the interplay of cost-cutting and digitalization in traditional newsrooms is expected to lead to an increased impact of private industries, special-interest organizations and lobby groups on the news. On the other hand, the tendency towards tabloidization and the spread of so-called citizen journalism occur simultaneously with the emergence of the ‘empowered patient’: in recent decades citizens have advocated for a more active involvement in health care delivery. Some authors contend that, next to elite sources, individual citizens are increasingly important sources for health-related issues (as vox pop or as a source of user-generated content). By means of a qualitative content analysis (N=106), this paper examines how both sourcing tendencies can be observed in the news coverage of a recent health news controversy in the Belgian press. On April 30, 2013, the parents of seven-year-old boy Victor, who suffers from a rare disease that affects his immune system, call out for help through different media channels. The life-saving drugs to treat his condition are very expensive, but they are not refunded by the National Health Service. Yet a few days later, a sharp-eyed journalist reveals that this news story, which was originally perceived as a signal of patient empowerment and broadened news access, was in fact highjacked by Alexion. This pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drugs had instructed a PR company to help the boy’s parents to get more media attention.
Keywords
sourcing practices, health news, PR sources, bottom-up news, in-depth interviews, health journalism

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Jana Declercq, Thierry Christiaens, et al. “Sourcing Practices in Health News: The Case of Viktor.” The Future of Journalism, Abstracts. 2015. Print.
APA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Declercq, J., Christiaens, T., & Raeymaeckers, K. (2015). Sourcing practices in health news: the case of Viktor. The Future of Journalism, Abstracts. Presented at the The Future of Journalism.
Chicago author-date
Van Leuven, Sarah, Jana Declercq, Thierry Christiaens, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2015. “Sourcing Practices in Health News: The Case of Viktor.” In The Future of Journalism, Abstracts.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Leuven, Sarah, Jana Declercq, Thierry Christiaens, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2015. “Sourcing Practices in Health News: The Case of Viktor.” In The Future of Journalism, Abstracts.
Vancouver
1.
Van Leuven S, Declercq J, Christiaens T, Raeymaeckers K. Sourcing practices in health news: the case of Viktor. The Future of Journalism, Abstracts. 2015.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Leuven, J. Declercq, T. Christiaens, and K. Raeymaeckers, “Sourcing practices in health news: the case of Viktor,” in The Future of Journalism, Abstracts, Cardiff, United Kingdom, 2015.
@inproceedings{6931700,
  abstract     = {This paper analyzes journalist-source relations in light of ongoing changes in the media landscape. On the one hand, the interplay of cost-cutting and digitalization in traditional newsrooms is expected to lead to an increased impact of private industries, special-interest organizations and lobby groups on the news. On the other hand, the tendency towards tabloidization and the spread of so-called citizen journalism occur simultaneously with the emergence of the ‘empowered patient’: in recent decades citizens have advocated for a more active involvement in health care delivery. Some authors contend that, next to elite sources, individual citizens are increasingly important sources for health-related issues (as vox pop or as a source of user-generated content). By means of a qualitative content analysis (N=106), this paper examines how both sourcing tendencies can be observed in the news coverage of a recent health news controversy in the Belgian press. On April 30, 2013, the parents of seven-year-old boy Victor, who suffers from a rare disease that affects his immune system, call out for help through different media channels. The life-saving drugs to treat his condition are very expensive, but they are not refunded by the National Health Service. Yet a few days later, a sharp-eyed journalist reveals that this news story, which was originally perceived as a signal of patient empowerment and broadened news access, was in fact highjacked by Alexion. This pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drugs had instructed a PR company to help the boy’s parents to get more media attention.},
  author       = {Van Leuven, Sarah and Declercq, Jana and Christiaens, Thierry and Raeymaeckers, Karin},
  booktitle    = {The Future of Journalism, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {sourcing practices,health news,PR sources,bottom-up news,in-depth interviews,health journalism},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Cardiff, United Kingdom},
  title        = {Sourcing practices in health news: the case of Viktor},
  year         = {2015},
}