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May 30, 2023 Editorial
Disinformation and dissemination of science and health in Latin America

by Luisa Massarani and Thaiane de Oliveira

Disinformation is not a recent phenomenon, but it gained strength in the 2010s and expanded its dimension with the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the fields of science and health. This context has contributed to an increase in studies related to Disinformation in the context of science and health dissemination at a global level, but also in our region. This led us to open a call for this special issue on Disinformation and dissemination of science and health in Latin America, which we present in this editorial.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2023

May 30, 2023 Article
Public discussion on Covid-19 in Mexico: What does Twitter tell us?

by Miguel Garcia-Guerrero, Diogo Lopes-de Oliveira, Erick Moreno, Nereida Martínez-Báez, Amelia Rodríguez-Pinedo and Elizabeth Ruiz-García

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a deep global impact in several social spheres, ranging from public health, economic activities, education and even the polarization that has occurred in the public discussion of the subject. Politicians, artists and scientists alike have expressed their positions on social media, producing debates with a wide range of perspectives that are not necessarily based on sound scientific facts. Thus, the conflict between reliable information and misinformation contributes to the growing uncertainty and complexity of the pandemic. This article explores how people look for references to build an opinion regarding the pandemic and the way in which personalities of different ranks, professions and nuances spread their opinions on health issues in Mexico. As methodological tools, the team analyzed hundreds of tweets from eleven profiles, divided into three groups: celebrities, politicians, and science communicators, in 14 relevant events during the pandemic. The results led to the construction of four major sections: deniers, moderates, cautious and critical. With this work, a basis is cemented to develop containment actions against disinformation and strategies to make the impact of Covid-19 visible, given the need for Mexican society to have reliable information to assume a position towards the so-called “new normality”.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2023

May 30, 2023 Essay
Vaccine misinformation on digital platforms: a symbiotic movement around profitability

by Ana Regina Rêgo and Ranielle Leal

This essay addresses tensions arising from the encounter between the new forms of neoliberal capitalism in life on digital platforms and the communication market that deals with scientific misinformation. To this end, we present statistical data on misinformation about vaccines, as well as theoretical approaches concerning the platforms' negotiating possibilities. On the one hand, optimists who see in the big techs connective business models, on the other, thinkers who consider the platforms as new spaces of exploitation and human colonization, where misinformation presents itself as a strategy to attract users' attention.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2023

May 30, 2023 Article
The challenges of fighting disinformation in Brazil: methods and perspectives

by Rodolfo Silva Marques, Ivana Cláudia Guimarães de Oliveira and Mário Camarão França Neto

Proposing debates about disinformation is challenging. Processes such as the Covid-19 pandemic or political-electoral scenarios reinforce the need to fight distortions and misinformation. When it comes to science and health, it becomes more relevant. Our objectives are to show the main types of misinformation and discuss their harmful consequences for the public in Brazil, the country this study focuses on. The methodological paths used are the literature review and the categorization of the types of misinformation identified in the country between 2020 and 2021. In the final considerations, we detail the widespread misinformation in the country and the growing number of mechanisms to face it.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2023

Apr 17, 2023 Article
Who are “we”? Examining relational ethos in British Columbia, Canada's COVID-19 public health communication

by Philippa Spoel, Alexandra Millar, Naomi Lacelle and Aarani Mathialagan

This paper investigates the multiple meanings and functions of the pronoun “we” in COVID-19 public updates by British Columbia's acclaimed Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in 2020. Our rhetorical case study shows how “we” contributes to Henry's relational ethos by attempting to foster a communal identity with her implied audience while also distinguishing public health expertise, actions, and authority from citizens' knowledge and actions. Ambiguous uses of “we” blur the line between the knowledge and responsibilities of “we” in public health and “we” as citizens. Overall, our rhetorical analysis demonstrates the significant but ambivalent role this pronoun can play in building relations of social trust among citizens, experts, and institutions within public health and science communication contexts and it suggests the importance of judicious pronoun usage when communicators strive to foster these relations.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Feb 27, 2023 Book Review
A Challenge for Media and Communication Studies: the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Rod Lamberts

Katarzyna Kopecka-Piech and Bartłomiej Łódzki’s edited volume, The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Challenge for Media and Communication Studies, could be of great utility to science communication scholars and teachers. The studies with contained within it address two overarching research questions. First, how have media and communication reality changed during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe? Second, how were media and communication studied effectively through that period? The volume features 17 individual studies calling on myriad methods and case examples. This diversity of approaches allows the editors to also address an important, implicit third question. In essence: what has it been like to conduct worthwhile, meaningful, and robust research under such unusual and extreme global circumstances? Each chapter is thorough, detailed and of a high technical standard. This is a book that would likely best serve experienced readers more than novices. The entire compendium bears clear witness to the dynamic nature of social research playing out against a context of enormous global instability.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Dec 05, 2022 Article
Politics, economy and society in the coverage of COVID-19 by elite newspapers in US, UK, China and Brazil: a text mining approach

by Luiz Felipe Fernandes Neves and Luisa Massarani

We analyzed 95,970 stories on COVID-19 published in 2020 by newspapers in US, UK, China and Brazil — countries marked by controversial management of the crisis. Through a text mining approach, we identified main topics, subjects, actors and the level of attention. The coverage was politicized in “The New York Times” and “Folha de S. Paulo”; focused on health aspects in “The Guardian”; and emphasized the economic situation in “China Daily”. In this sense, the pandemic has motivated a deeper approach to the multiple dimensions of science and health, pointing to a broader perspective of science communication.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Aug 29, 2022 Article
Vaccination rates in Europe are not associated with online media intensity

by Catarina Luís, Veronica Romina Di Marzo, Mandeep Kaur, Christos Argyropoulos, Declan Devane, Fiona Anne Stewart, George Antoniou, Greet Hendrickx, Helena Hervius Askling, Margot Hellemans, Miriam Cohen, Orly Spivak, Pierre Van Damme, Rebecca Jane Cox, Sirkka Vene, Sofie Sibia, Zoi Dorothea Pana, Ole Olesen and on behalf of VACCELERATE Consortium

To map the public information about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine trials in Europe, we have compiled an inventory of online communication materials from official sources (e.g., governments, public agencies, and NGOs) via directed online research. While information for the general public was abundant across Europe, we found a large variation in number, type and target audiences among countries. Little or no information was found for population groups that are typically underrepresented in vaccine clinical trials. Materials about clinical trials and trial participation were also limited. Interestingly, higher number of media materials was not reflected in higher national vaccination rates.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Aug 22, 2022 Article
Increasingly polarised or finding common ground? Exploring pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric on two South African Facebook pages

by Karien Connoway, Hannah Keal, Milandré van Lill and Marina Joubert

We investigated pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric on two South African Facebook pages to identify the nature, sources and justifications of the vaccine-related claims published on these pages. Our dataset consisted of 440 Facebook posts made by page administrators during 2019. Statements related to the safety and necessity of vaccines dominated the pro-vaccine page, while the anti-vaccine page focussed primarily on claims about the dangers of vaccines. Posts on both pages frequently contained content shared from within Facebook, with much of the content originating from the United States. Both pages made equal use of scientific justifications (i.e. published journal articles) to support claims, and most of these articles were published in accredited journals. The authors hope that a better understanding of the nature, sources and justifications of pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric may lead to more constructive dialogue about vaccines, including the ongoing debate about COVID-19 vaccines.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Jul 18, 2022 Book Review
Scratching an itch: a new perspective on health communication in Africa

by Greer Van Zyl

At last, a compilation of essays that provide fascinating insights into Health Communication and Disease in Africa. Falade and Murire (eds.) have produced a volume which needed to be written and will delight those with an interest in health and science communication, public health, social and behaviour change, and theoretical approaches to health communication. Broad themes cover stigma, beliefs and traditions, and rethinking approaches to health communication. A key element is the effort to bridge ‘classical’ approaches to health communication and behaviour change with indigenous knowledge systems of people in Africa.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022