Framing responsibility: coverage of lung cancer among smokers and non-smokers in Australian television news
Article first published online: 7 OCT 2010
© 2011 The Authors. ANZJPH © 2011 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 35, Issue 1, pages 66–70, February 2011
How to Cite
MacKenzie, R., Chapman, S. and Holding, S. (2011), Framing responsibility: coverage of lung cancer among smokers and non-smokers in Australian television news. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 35: 66–70. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00614.x
- Issue published online: 8 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 7 OCT 2010
- Submitted: November 2009 Revision requested: February 2010 Accepted: April 2010
- lung cancer;
Objective: To analyse news portrayals of lung cancer and associated inferences about responsibility in Australian television news.Methods: Analysis of television news reports, broadcast on Sydney's five free-to-air television channels between 2 May 2005 and 31 August 2009, for all statements pertaining to lung cancer.
Results: Of 2,042 reports mentioning any cancer, 45 made reference to lung cancer, and 28 (62%) referred to diagnoses of lung cancer in non-smokers. Of 157 statements in these reports, 107 (68%) noted that the person featured was a non-smoker. Non-smokers were portrayed sympathetically and as tragic victims, implying they were not responsible for their condition, the sub-text being that smokers are responsible for theirs.
Conclusions: Television news portrays non-smokers with lung cancer with considerable sympathy. Conversely, smokers are implicitly and occasionally explicitly depicted as responsible for their disease.
Implications: The marginalisation of tobacco caused lung cancer in news, together with sympathetic reporting of lung cancer in non-smokers may contribute to stigma surrounding smoking caused disease that may promote delay in seeking treatment, and de-emphasise the role of the tobacco industry's decades-long smoker reassurance program in promoting smoking.