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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A content analysis of US newspaper coverage of Canada and the UK’s healthcare systems during America’s healthcare reform Blackadar, Kerry Jean


This study examines how Canadian Medicare and the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) were represented in US newspaper coverage between January 2008 and the first quarter of 2010, a period marked by changing healthcare policy in America and dramatic shifts in the journalism industry at large. Through a content analysis of print news from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, this paper tracked and assessed reporting dimensions and coverage themes to illustrate the quantity and quality of coverage. The analysis was based on the seminal work of Pauline M. Vaillancourt Rosenau, who performed a content analysis of newspaper coverage of Canada’s healthcare system between 2000 and mid-June 2005 in the NYT and WSJ. Findings from this thesis reveal that recent US newspaper coverage of Medicare, though narrow, is more accurate and balanced compared to coverage during Rosenau’s study timeframe. The NHS received far greater attention in US newspapers, indicating that outside factors, potentially including collaboration in the Iraq war, have spawned greater US media interest in the UK at large. On occasion, this study found coverage of the NHS to be critical, relying on anecdotal evidence to suggest systematic failure of aspects of healthcare in the UK. With respect to coverage themes, wait lines for treatment was a dominant issue in US newspaper reporting of both Canadian Medicare and the NHS. Medical tourism and problems associated with paying for universal healthcare also emerged in US representation of the NHS. This paper concludes with a discussion of outside factors that may have influenced American newspaper coverage during the study period. Considering the current state of print journalism, this paper predicts that, in the years ahead, American print coverage of foreign healthcare will continue to decline. However, in conjunction with this, it is likely that increased online representation of foreign healthcare stories will occur, as new journalism platforms, such as blogs, continue to proliferate. Finally, as American reporters continue to gain greater access to online healthcare research databases, this study suggests that the quality of US coverage of Medicare and the NHS is likely to improve.

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