No change without some continuity: Evergreen health myths resurfacing during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated journalistic corrections
Keywords:misinformation, health myths, corrections, fact-checking, journalism
Crises allow falsehoods to flourish in communication environments, prompting negative consequences. Corrections issued in response, such as journalistic fact-checks, have difficulty undoing the harm falsehoods cause. This has been attributed to the design and distribution of corrections, presented as diametral to how false / misleading claims are reported; however, this argument has never been tested in a single study. We addressed this research gap through a content analysis of journalistic coverage of health myths surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of journalistic corrections. We found that 86.1 % of the misinformation items addressed in this coverage echoed health myths described in the literature for other outbreaks, suggesting that misinformation is largely recycled and tweaked to apply to new outbreaks. We also found major differences regarding the actors that journalists presented as those in which falsehoods and corrections originated – with the former stemming mainly from the civil society domain and the latter from the science domain. Finally, we found differences in the key properties of misinformation and corrections in the journalistic coverage analyzed, agreeing with existing theorizing. This suggests that corrections have a competitive disadvantage compared with misinformation. To address this, corrections should employ more supporting visuals and decreased complexity.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 Viorela Dan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The electronic contributions in the Internet are distributed under the "Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivatives 4.0 International" - License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows others to share the work in any medium or format with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in Studies in Communication Sciences SComS. However, the work may not be altered or transformed and it may not be used for commercial purposes. These conditions are irrevocable. The full text of the license may be read under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/deed.en