Historical Coverage of Contraception in the Media

An historical look at birth control and the media is the theme of  Journalism & Communication Monographs’ last issue of 2016 (Volume 18, Number 4). The issue’s monograph by Ana C. Garner and Angela R. Michel is titled: “The Birth Control Divide”: U.S. Press Coverage of Contraception, 1873-2013, followed by two commentary pieces: Situating Contraception in a Broader Historical Formation (Carole R. McCann) and  140 Years of Birth Control Coverage in the Prestige Press (Dolores Flamiano).

Abstract  (Garner/Michel analysis)

For more than 140 years, religious, medical, legislative, and legal institutions have contested the issue of contraception. In this conversation, predominantly male voices have attached reproductive rights to tangential moral and political matters, revealing an ongoing, systematic attempt to regulate human bodies, especially those of women. This analysis of 1873-2013 press coverage of contraception in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune shows a division between institutional ideology and real-life experience; women’s reproductive rights are negotiable. Although journalists often reported that contraception was a factor in the everyday life of women and men, press accounts also showed religious, medical, legislative, and legal institutions debating whether it should be. Contraception originally was predominately viewed as a practice of prostitutes (despite evidence to the contrary) but became a part of everyday life. The battle has slowly evolved into one about the Affordable Care Act, religious freedom, morality, and employer rights. What did not significantly change over the 140-year period are larger cultural and ideological structures; these continue to be dominated by men, who retain power over women’s bodies.

Telemedicine Resources

telehealth_wordcloud_480x339My favorite regular feature in  ACRL’s  (Association of College and Research Libraries) College & Research Libraries News is Internet Resources, which I like to “repost” if at all communication-related.  This month’s focus is on telehealth:  Telemedicine: A Guide to Online Resources (C&RL News, Volume 77, Number 3, March, 2016) by Angela K. Gooden.  Ms. Gooden calls on the American Telemedicine Association for a definition of telemedicine, which is the “use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status….includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”

The Guide sorts the topic by History/Infographics, Government/Policy, Academic Resources, State Programs, Scholarly Journals, Telehealth/Telemedicine Providers, Organizations, and Blogs.

Incidentally, of the four titles rounded up in the Scholarly Journals section, three of the four can be accessed through Penn Libraries:

International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications

Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Telemedicine and e-Health

And Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth is an open access title. That’s batting a thousand I’d say.

Pain Communication Research

It’s always nice to see good communication research getting picked up in the broader media, as in the case of Elena Gonzalez- Polledo‘s work on how social media users–in this case, Tumblr– communicate about chronic pain. The Social Media Cure: How People with Chronic Illness Use Memes, Selfies, and Emogis to Soothe Their Suffering by Amanda Hess appears in Slate.com (March 4, 2016). You can read the original research, Chronic Media Worlds: Social Media and the Problem of Pain Communication on Tumblr, by Dr. Gonzalez-Polledo in Social Media and Society (January-March, 2016) here. Gonzalez-Polledo

Abstract for Chronic Media Worlds…:

This article explores dynamics of pain communication in the social media platform Tumblr. As a device of health communication, the Tumblr platform brings together a network of behaviors, technologies, and media forms through which pain experience is reimaged through and against mainstream biomedical frameworks. The article develops an interpretative approach to analyze how, as social media platforms reorganize affective, emotional, physical, and temporal frames of experience, communication about chronic pain and illness is reimagined in its capacity to create social worlds. Drawing on ethnographic theory to reimagine the relation between politics and poetics in pain communication, the article explores the issue- and world-making capacities of social media.

Dr. Gonzalez is also the author (with Jen Tarr) of The Thing About Pain: The Remaking of Illness Narratives in Chronic Pain Expressions on Social Media  which appeared in New Media & Society (November 20, 2014).


Special Issue on Rhetoric and Gun Violence in R&PA

rap.17.4_front_smRhetoric & Public Affairs (Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 2014) is titled “Special Issue on Civility” but it’s the title from the editors’ Introduction “Weapons and Words: Rhetorical Studies of the Gabrielle Giffords Shootings” that better captures the issue.


Weapons and Words: Rhetorical Studies of the Gabrielle Giffords Shootings /Thomas A. Hollihan, Francesca Marie Smith
“Out of Chaos Breathes Creation”: Human Agency, Mental Illness, and Conservative Arguments Locating Responsibility for the Tucson Massacre / Francesca Marie Smith, Thomas A. Hollihan
“Enduring” Incivility: Sarah Palin and the Tucson Tragedy / Beth L. Boser, Randall A. Lake
Facing Moloch: Barack Obama’s National Eulogies and Gun Violence / David A. Frank
Gabrielle Giffords: A Study in Civil Courage / G. Thomas Goodnight
Civility, Democracy, and National Politics / Mary E. Stuckey, Sean Patrick O’Rourke
Forum: The Second Amendment as Demanding Subject: Figuring the Marginalized Subject in Demands for an Unbridled Second Amendment / Laura J. Collins

For those who want even more on this topic, the previous issue of R&PA (Volume 13, Number 3, Fall 2014) features: Dimensions of Temporality in President Obama’s Tucson Memorial Address / Brian Amsden

Rhetoric & Public Affairs is available from Penn Libraries eJournals.

Resilience and Communication (or Not)

The May 10, 2013 Chronicle Review’s cover story is titled: Resilience: An Idea Takes Root. Authors  discuss post-catastrophic recuperation from various interdisciplinary perspectives. Whether from acts of nature, of the market, war, or terrorism scholars are labeling this new area Resilience Studies which includes “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to events” (as defined by the National Academy of Sciences last year). In addition to several articles on the topic in this issue, the Review features a bibliography of recent books on the topic which I am posting in this blog for two reasons. One, maybe it’s an interesting list of books to check out, and two, what’s missing is a book on the topic from a communication perspective. And there is work in the areas of crisis and disaster communication.  If anyone would like to nominate a title from our field that should have been included feel free to tweet me (and I will append/retweet). Given that this is a hot area with established programs at Ohio State University (Center for Resilience) and research groups such as the Resilience Alliance, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and resilience programs at agencies like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the World Economic Forum (cyber resilience) and the Rockefeller Foundation (climate resilience), these are discourse and policy spaces more communication scholars might want to be wading into (to use a tsunami/flood metaphor).

Selected Works on Resilience, 2001-12

Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, by Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney (Cambridge University Press)
Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function, by Brian Walker and David Salt (Island Press)
Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy (Free Press)
“Resilience: Thoughts on the Value of the Concept for Critical Gerontology,” by Kirsty Wild, Janine L. Wiles, and Ruth E.S. Allen (Ageing & Society)
Resilience and Mental Health: Challenges Across the Lifespan, edited by Steven M. Southwick, Brett T. Litz, Dennis S. Charney, Matthew J. Friedman (Cambridge University Press)
“Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability, and Resilience,” by Mark D. Seery, E. Alison Holman, and Roxane Cohen Silver (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
“Weighing the Costs of Disaster: Consequences, Risks, and Resilience in Individuals, Families, and Communities,” by George A. Bonanno, Chris R. Brewin, Krzysztof Kaniasty, and Annette M. La Greca (Psychological Science in the Public Interest)
Foundations of Ecological Resilience, edited by Lance H. Gunderson, Craig R. Allen, and C.S. Holling (Island Press)
“Disaster Preparation and Recovery: Lessons From Research on Resilience in Human Development,” by Ann S. Masten and Jelena Obradovic (Ecology and Sociology)
“Community Resilience as a Metaphor, Theory, Set of Capacities, and Strategy for Disaster Readiness,” by Fran H. Norris, Susan P. Stevens, Betty Pfefferbaum, Karen F. Wyche, and Rose L. Pfefferbaum (American Journal of Community Psychology)
Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows (Chelsea Green)
Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World, by Brian Walker and David Salt (Island Press)
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, by Thomas Homer-Dixon (Island Press)
Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts, edited by Erik Hollnagel, David D. Woods, and Nancy Leveson (Ashgate Publishing)
“Loss, Trauma and Human Resilience: Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive after Extremely Aversive Events?” by George A. Bonanno (American Psychologist)
Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, edited by Lance H. Gunderson and C.S. Holling (Island Press)
“Ordinary Magic: Resilience Processes in Development,” by Ann S. Masten (American Psychologist)

Reducing Health Disparities in JOC

Communication Strategies to Reduce Health Disparities is the title of the Journal of Communication‘s special issue (February 2013, Volume 63:1). Edited by Nancy Grant Harrington (University of Kentucky), many of the journal’s ten articles grew out of two preconferences in 2012, one at the International Communication Association, the other at the Kentucky Conference on Health Communication. The lead piece deals with the current state of knowledge on the content and effects of communication about health disparities in the mass media.  Other articles address intervention research, narrative practices, community-based eHealth strategies, and communication infrastructure theory in relation to reducing health disparities. The issue’s case studies focus on HIV, the HPV vaccine, and hunger, a major if not the major marker of health disparity. The geography of this research ranges from Appalachia  and Tippecanoe Country, Indiana to West Bengal, India with Africa in between.

The journal is available from Penn Library e-resources.

Research Feature: Environmental Rhetoric of Barack Obama

ARGUMENTATION AND ADVOCACY 48:3 (Winter 2012) features research on President Obama’s rhetoric on global warming and other environmental issues. Titled Salience Over Sustainability: Environmental Rhetoric of President Barack Obama by Brett Bricker, you can access the full text online from Communication & Mass Media Media Complete.

Environmental policy was a core component of the first 17 months of the Obama administration. From global warming legislation to the BP oil crisis, Obama responded to a range of environmental concerns with a variety of rhetorical strategies. This article examines the first 40 environmental speeches delivered by President Barack Obama.I find that Obama primarily used economic and national security arguments to justify his environmental policy. Scholars’ work on definitional argument provides an analytic framework that supports my claim that although the approach of privileging economic and national security benefits is politically salient in the short-term, it undercuts
long-term public support for environmentalism.

Policy & Internet

The Policy Studies Organization has a rich website given the list of open access journals they publish, including Policy & Internet, Poverty & Public Policy, Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, World Medical and Health Policy, and, coming soon, Online Education.

The latest issue of Policy & Internet is on the subject of eHealth, as described below by editors Rik Crutzen, (Maastricht University) and Guodong (Gordon) Gao, (University of Maryland):

The explosive growth of the Internet and its omnipresence in people’s daily lives has facilitated a shift in information seeking on health, with the Internet now a key information source for the general public, patients, and health professionals. The Internet has also driven an increase in eHealth initiatives, ranging from Internet-delivered interventions and therapy focusing on specific behaviors or diseases, to maintenance of electronic health records. A lack of policy measures is a common barrier to success of eHealth initiatives; we hope that the empirical research and perspectives gathered here in this Policy & Internet special issue on eHealth will make a significant impact among eHealth policymakers, academics, and professionals, and make a valuable contribution to future policy and research efforts in this area.

For political communication types check out PSO’s upcoming conference  in September 2012. Internet, Politics, Policy 2012: Big Data, Big Challenges?

Communicating Risks & Benefits from the FDA

The Risk Communication Advisory Committee to the Food and Drug Administration has just released Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence-Based User’s Guide (edited by Baruch Fischhoff, Noel T. Brewer and Julie S. Downs) in an effort to provide more scientific foundations for effective risk communication. The book is freely available online in pdf format.

Committee chair Baruch Fischhoff, described the book’s goals as “to make communication science accessible. Another was to facilitate evidence-based approaches.Each chapter is 3,000 words, each addressing these points: What does the science say?

What does the science mean?…How can you tell how well you’ve done?…We wanted to make people feel guilty if they didn’t do any evaluation.”


Climate Change and the Media

The November 2010 issue of Public Understanding of Science has several articles on climate change and the media. The journal is available from the Penn Libraries e-journals.

Climates of risk: A field analysis of global climate change in US media discourse, 1997-2004, by John Sonnett.

Emotional anchoring and objectification in the media reporting on climate change, by Birgitta Höijer.

To frame is to explain: A deductive frame-analysis of Dutch and French climate change coverage during the annual UN Conferences of the Parties, by Astrid Dirikx and Dave Gelders.

Evaluating the effects of ideology on public understanding of climate change science: How to improve communication across ideological divides? by Asim Zia and Anne Marie Todd.