||This study uses the agenda building theory to examine Taiwanese newspapers’ coverage of ALS, taking the Ice Bucket Challenge event as a case study. The event is chosen because its new communication features such as mainly spread through social media networks, world-wide participation and its unique news values. This study tries to examine how news media constructed the Ice Bucket Challenge and the issue of ALS by examining the differences in news content before, during, and after the event. The results help to reveal how the event affects the media coverage on the issue of ALS by comparing it to the characteristics of the agenda building theory..|
There are two research questions in this study:
1. How did the Ice bucket Challenge event build the agenda for the news media regarding the news of ALS, and if the whole process conformed to the characteristics described by the agenda building theory?
2. What are the differences between the pre-event and post-event content of ALS in the news and how did the news frames change?
The research adopted content analysis to examine the news coverage of four main Taiwanese newspapers: the United Daily News, the China Time, the Liberty Time and the Apple Daily. The time frame of the study was from July 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, in order to compare the news content before (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014), during (July 1 to September 30, 2014) and after (October 1, 2014 to September, 30, 2015) the Ice bucket Challenge event.
The results show that news coverage of the event conforms to the characteristics of the agenda building theory, including the increase in report volume, linkage between the reports’ content and the public, using “Conflict” frame to present controversial contents, and that the information quotes are sourced mainly from “public figures” and “governmental health units or officials. The results suggest that the characteristics of the event, including the nature of the ALS issue, the event appeal and purpose, the political environment among many other factors, interactively influenced the agenda building process.
The results also show that four news frames dominated the news coverage, including “Attribution of responsibility” frame, “Human interest” frame, “Morality” frame, and “Conflict” frame. Among them, “Morality” and “Human interest” are most commonly seen in the reports. The press also has the tendency to use "Attribution of responsibility" and "Morality" frameworks simultaneously when it comes to ALS-related issues. Functional framework pointed out that, “the patients themselves and their family members” are responsible for the disease in the early and later phase. In the mid-phase however, “the public and the patient organization” are hold responsible to. Moral analysis, in the early and later phase, emphasize on “satisfying the patient’s need in aspect of economic/ care and companionship/ medical care”; mid-phase on “educating the public about the disease/ respect and empathy toward the patients/ the positive atmosphere of society and fairness and justice”. The solution and suggestions towards the three phases are all based on “improving soc