What Are They Telling Us, and What Are We Telling Them? How Local Media Can Frame Addiction Issues, and What Can Be Done About It

Erick J. Lauber, PhD

Members of the public have limited understanding of substance abuse: what causes it; how it affects individuals, families, and society; and how it can be addressed and prevented.

Research by IUP Journalism and Public Relations department and MARTI-CBH faculty member Erick Lauber is examining how media, both mass media and prevention literature, is shaping and framing the addiction issue for the general public. Content analysis of community media messages, including examination of a year's worth of substance abuse articles by the local Indiana Gazette, confirm national findings that the media is telling impartial and sometimes conflicting stories about substance abuse. The research suggests that a new approachfor example, re-framing substance abuse as a pubic issue rather than just an individual problemis necessary to activate community-level responses to the crisis.