Voices in the media: key stakeholders and the overdose crisis

Date

2021-08-26

Authors

Booth, Katyanna

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Abstract

Opioid overdose deaths have impacted the lives of countless Canadians at unprecedented rates and have taken the lives of over 19,000 people since 2016, over 4,000 of those deaths occurred in 2017. The overdose crisis has been repeatedly represented in the media and how the issues are represented by key stakeholders is an area left primarily unresearched. Online news media articles stemming from International Overdose Awareness Day in 2017 were collected and methodologically reviewed via Critical discourse analysis to answer the following: What messages, and from which key stakeholders, how key stakeholders challenged or accepted constructions of substances and PWUD, and how messages converged and/or diverged amongst key stakeholders. Loved Ones most the most cited, then Frontline Providers, followed by Experiential People, Government Officials, and Indigenous People the least. Themes that emerged included the Stigma Experience, Sharing Experience of Grief, Loss, and Substance Use, and Problems and Solutions. Competing and divergent views also presented themselves through the stakeholder voices and often revolved around similar goals but different approaches. The voices in the media for International Overdose Awareness Day advocated and disrupted pre-conceived notions yet also contributed to constructions directly connected to the stigma and oppression PWUD face.

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Keywords

critical discourse analysis, social constructionism, media, social work, harm reduction, social work

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