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An Acceptable Daily Intake of Bad News. Public/Private Problems and Media Trivialization of Environmental Health Issues: The Case of Indoor Air Pollution in France

Abstract : Since the mid-1990s, the issue of indoor air pollution has discreetly made its way onto French political and media agendas. Confined to the periphery of the highly-competitive public health problem market, the issue of the long-term exposure of inhabitants to household pollutants receives little media coverage, and even that is predominantly didactic and educational in nature. Covered by non-specialist and occasional journalists, the problem generally appears in sections of secondary importance from a journalistic point of view. The current article analyses the social conditions of the media confinement of this issue, paradoxically described by some analysts as a "sanitary scourge" that may play a role in a worrying epidemic of chronic diseases. This inquiry into the career taken by the indoor air problem in French media between 1995 and 2015 is based on the analysis of a corpus of written and audiovisual publications (n=746) and a campaign of interviews with journalists and communicators having worked to publicize this issue (n=16). Data provides us with a better understanding of the mechanisms ensuring that media exposure of this problem to the public remains tightly controlled: on the one hand, the unequal relationships between journalists and their sources which helps reduce their role to that of mere relayers of public health policy, and on the other, the specific dynamics at work within the journalistic field. These include transformations in the conditions of information production and the work of journalists in a context of reinforced economic pressures and the rising influence of public communication.
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Renaud Crespin, Benjamin Ferron. An Acceptable Daily Intake of Bad News. Public/Private Problems and Media Trivialization of Environmental Health Issues: The Case of Indoor Air Pollution in France. Politiques de communication, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, 2016, 7 (2), pp.151-181. ⟨10.3917/pdc.007.0151⟩. ⟨halshs-02747680⟩

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