Social Media News Production, Emotional Facebook Reactions, and the Politicization of Drug Addiction

Danielle K. Kilgo, Jennifer Midberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In times of health crisis, news media have generally contributed to public panic, though these instances are usually explored in crises involving communicable diseases. However, in 2017, the long-brewing opioid crisis was formally declared a federal emergency by the United States government, leading to a considerable uptick in media attention to drugs and drug addiction. Considering 1) the news media’s tendency to contribute to public fear and panic during times of emergency or crisis, 2) the problematic representations of drug addiction in previous years, and 3) developing social media production practices among journalists on social media, this research uses content analysis to explore how highly circulated news outlets covered drug addiction in 2017–2018 and social media audiences’ emotional responses. Results indicate that political intervention drove media coverage rather than the effects of opioid addiction on people. Political interference led to increased anger and laughter reactions among Facebook users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalHealth communication
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 19 2020
StatePublished - 2022

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© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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  • Journal Article


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