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Risk and Uncertainty: Reporting the Zika Outbreak in Brazil

Reporting the Zika outbreak in Brazil

International broadcasters framed their coverage of the 2016 Zika outbreak in Brazil around 'risk and uncertainty' according to a new study by Dr Maria Esperidião, 2018 Journalist Fellow.  Esperidião’s paper on reporting Zika seeks to discover the main narratives adopted by CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera during the Zika outbreak, when shocking images of tiny-headed newborn babies were brought into living rooms across the world.

This appeared to be the beginning of yet another frightening epidemic in a tropical paradise preparing to host the Olympic Games. After analysing the prevalence of seven news frames on 211 videos posted on CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera websites, Esperidião concludes that in regards to Zika and Microcephaly (congenital Zika syndrome), 'risk and uncertainty' was the most seen frame on news feeds. It also seems that the virus became irrelevant once it was no longer a global outbreak, but, above all, another disease of poverty.