Thursday, 25 April 2019

Phone tower media reports legitimise radiation concerns

newspaperSwiss researchers say negative health perceptions about phone tower emissions are being fuelled by the media’s tendency to over emphasize concerns about radiation from towers compared to other sources like handsets and TVs. 

The researchers found Swiss newspapers were more likely to write about the possible health effects of signals from mobile phone towers than from handsets, despite the scientific consensus that people absorb more radiation from a phone held to the head than from a base station across the street.
“A content analysis of Swiss newspapers shows that they cover radiation in ways that legitimize worries about phones and towers, but they talk about towers six times more often than phones, suggesting that the risk comes from the towers rather than the phones,” the study published in The Atlantic Journal of Communication said.
The researchers identified 875 articles that mentioned non-ionising radiation from nine Swiss newspapers dating from January 1, 2002, to December 31, 2007.
By analysing the articles they found that around half of the more than 8,000 individual statements in the articles were likely to make people scared about electromagnetic signals and because so many of the articles were about phone towers.
“All in all, the newspapers, when talking about appliances that emit radiation, implied that worries were legitimate slightly more often than when they spoke about transmission facilities,” the researchers said.
“In this, they appear to some degree to have followed experts’ assessment of the different risks. However, newspapers hardly ever talked about the emissions from appliances, in comparison to the attention they paid to emissions from transmission facilities.”
“The latent message of this pattern is that the problem comes from the transmission facilities rather than from the appliances.”
The researchers also found that when looking specifically at statements that related to the likely consequences from mobile phone base station signals, almost 90 per cent of the time the article mentioned negative health effects.
“Based on all 2031 statements on consequences, 87% of them mentioned unreservedly negative consequences,” the researchers said.
When they looked at the sources of information in the articles they found politicians, lobby groups and citizens were all more likely to be quoted than experts or scientists.

“By far the most frequently cited social actors in NIR coverage were politicians and administrators, including very few representatives of the legal system (27%). Next in importance were regular citizens (11.7%), followed by interest groups (7.2%), experts and scientists (6.3%), and business representatives (3.7%).”

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