The blame frame: media attribution of culpability about the MMR-autism vaccination scare.
Scholars have examined how news media frame events, including responsibility for causing and fixing problems, and how these frames inform public judgment. This study analyzed 281 newspaper articles about a controversial medical study linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination with autism. Given criticism of the study and its potential negative impact on vaccination rates across multiple countries, the current study examined actors to whom news media attributed blame for the MMR-vaccine association, sources used to support those attributions, and what solutions (e.g., mobilizing information), if any, were offered. This study provides unique insight by examining the evolution of these attributions over the lifetime of the controversy. Findings emphasize how news media may attribute blame in health risk communication and how that ascription plays a potentially vital role in shaping public behavior. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Holton, A; Weberling, B; Clarke, CE; Smith, MJ
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