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Public Health

People rely on credible information about public health from news outlets, however little is known about how news organizations interpret overseas pandemics for their local communities.


In a series of papers, Juve J. Cortés-Rivera, Felipe Blanco and I argue that newspapers can set the agenda for preventive health behavior by localizing the risk of epidemics for their local audiences. We find that after a sluggish start, the frequency of coverage was broadly responsive to the total number of cases, but the newspaper coverage did not promote proactive public health responses, meaning it was unlikely to encourage preventive behavior. These results have important implications for information campaigns about pandemics, illustrating the need for effective risk communication to encourage preventive health behavior.

Another paper describes New Zealand's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, before describing several lessons from their response that can be adopted elsewhere to restrict the spread of the virus.

Finally, a paper with Douglas A. Van Belle illustrates that states that were once colonial powers have been much worse at containing COVID-19 than other states, and we provide economic dehumanization as a possible explanation for this pattern from the first few months of the pandemic.

Publications and Works in Progress:

  • (with Juve J. Cortés-Rivera and Felipe Blanco). "Spreading the News: Threat Perception and News Coverage of Zika in the US." 

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