A legacy of the swine flu global pandemic: Journalists, expert sources, and conflicts of interest

Kate HOLLAND, Melissa Sweet, Warwick BLOOD, Andrea Fogarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article investigates the extent to which Australian journalists considered the potential conflicts of interest of expert sources during their reporting of the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic. The study found that asking about conflicts of interest was not a routine practice for most, though various indirect methods of ascertaining such information were discussed. Journalists' views and practices in relation to conflicts of interest were shaped by factors related to the story, their sources, audiences, the medium, and personal beliefs. The article elaborates on these findings with reference to key areas of debate relating to conflicts of interest, and considers the extent to which they are products of the context of an emerging infectious disease or characteristic of health reporting more broadly. We conclude that a legacy of the pandemic in Australia appears to be heightened journalistic sensitivity to the conflicts of interest of experts and policy advisors, especially in relation to large-scale public health issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-71
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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