When religion prevails : Examining the religious and mainstream news coverage of Measles-Rubella vaccination in a Muslim nation

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Conference

Title2021 International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference (IAMCR 2021)
LocationOnline Conference
PlaceKenya
CityNairobi
Period11 - 15 July 2021

Abstract

The threat of measles and rubella (MR) still haunts many countries across the globe, including Indonesia. To address this issue, the government undertook the world’s biggest MR vaccination campaign targeting over 68 million children. However, the program encountered strong public resistance as narratives that vaccines contained pork and were not ‘halal’ (permissible foods under Islamic law) widely circulated in this largest Muslim country. This religious objection was dubbed as a factor contributing to the failure of the program (Pronyk et al., 2019). Indonesia’s health ministry then lobbied the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), the supreme authority for religious affairs, to increase MR vaccination acceptance. On 20 August 2018, the MUI issued a decree stating that the MR vaccine could be consumed (Tehusirajana, 2018).

To educate the public about the religious decree, the government relies on media outlets, especially online news portals, where many Indonesians commonly derive health information. Aside from mainstream media, Islamic news media becomes increasingly popular in this country. Religious media discusses current affairs and religion-related topics and provides alternative views or counternarratives. Therefore, it may frame the news differently than mainstream media. This message frame affects how the audience interprets and comprehends an issue, which later alters individuals’ attitudes and behaviors (Moernaut et al., 2018).

Learning from the MR vaccination campaign in Indonesia, this study examines how religious and mainstream media in Indonesia frame the MR vaccination coverage, which may influence public acceptance of the immunization. Guided by framing theory (Goffman, 1974), this research analyzes the differences in the message frame before and after the religious decree employed by both types of media. This investigation also sets out to identify the sources and their prominence in the news articles.

This study performed a content analysis of 234 articles from eight top online religious (n= 43) and mainstream media in Indonesia (n= 191) published from 6 August to 4 September 2018. Several keywords were used to harvest the articles (e.g., measles-rubella, MR vaccine). The final coding scheme consisted of frames (i.e., benefit and risk frames), source (i.e., celebrities, health experts, the government, religious leaders, advocacy groups, citizens), prominence of the source (in which paragraph the source was covered), time (i.e., before and after the decree), and type of the media (i.e., religious and mainstream media). 

The main findings suggest that while the mainstream media promoted the benefits of the vaccine, the religious media still conveyed the risk of MR vaccine, even when the religious organizations had endorsed it. Moreover, articles from mainstream media predominantly cited government officials and religious leaders. On the other hand, religious media mainly quoted religious leaders. This investigation enriches the literature of health communication and alternative media, aside from extending the application of framing theory. Practically, this study offers beneficial insights for the government and health-related organizations in designing health campaigns through various media outlets.

Citation Format(s)

When religion prevails : Examining the religious and mainstream news coverage of Measles-Rubella vaccination in a Muslim nation. / Oktavianus, Jeffry; Dewi, Helga Liliani Cakra.

2021. Paper presented at 2021 International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference (IAMCR 2021), Nairobi, Kenya.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)peer-review