Keywords: content analysis culture of fear avian flu rhetoric swine flu

KMT 2018 nr 1 Download PDF

Doomsday is Coming! The Rhetoric of Fear in the Polish Media: Press Coverage of Avian and Swine Flu

Cite: , Nadciąga zagłada! Retoryka strachu w polskich mediach na przykładzie prasowych relacji z epidemii ptasiej i świńskiej grypy, "Kultura - Media - Teologia", 2018( 32) nr 1, s. 25-40.

DOI: 10.21697/kmt.32.2

The article presents the results of the analysis of press coverage of bird flu and swine flu epidemics in 2006–2010. The content analysis of the reports and articles published in Polish dailies (Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, Fakt, Dziennik Polska Times) and opinion magazines (Newsweek, Polityka, Wprost, Przegląd) reveals the most important features of the rhetoric of fear which dominates media reports in restless times of crises when the public seeks reliable information and instead receives a barrage of sensational metaphors, gruesome epithets and horrifying comparisons. Discourse analysis allows to distinguish persuasive lexical and syntactic means used to induce fear in the readers confronted with the narrative of a medical thriller, which begins with What if to conclude with doomsday scenarios, often heralded by the conjunction but. The composition of texts is equally important, the rhetoric of fear is introduced by dramatic headlines and leads built around gloomy speculations that often replace facts, to conclude with apocalyptic warnings.

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Magdalena Hodalska

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