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The reporting of the influenza pandemic, 1918-1920 in Hamilton, Ontario

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DOI: 10.4236/health.2012.412193    5,989 Downloads   7,633 Views   Citations
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ABSTRACT

The paper evaluates the ways in which Hamilton, Ontario’s three daily newspapers covered the influenza epidemic, 1918-1920. In Hamilton, the central aspect of influenza coverage was Dr. Roberts’ decision to close all public meeting places twice during 1918. No other story but those connected to a public meeting ban could sustain interest. Thus, the story for the press was to be the ban: whether to ban, what to ban, to lift or not, to reimpose. The story monopolized influenza coverage to such an extent that traditional threads, such as morbidity and mortality and personal interest stories, received little attention. The ban, because it restricted personal freedoms and involved local politics and commerce, received extensive coverage. In the absence of a ban, the influenza story could fade out of the press even during some of the most virulent periods of the epidemic. The paper finds that influenza was not transformative in Hamilton and in fact, demonstrated the viability of traditional charitable responses to disease. The actions carried out by Hamilton’s Board of Health cannot be considered “modern” as its methods were more akin to the nineteenth century than those of the later bacteriological age.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Rankin, J. (2012) The reporting of the influenza pandemic, 1918-1920 in Hamilton, Ontario. Health, 4, 1317-1327. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.412193.

References

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[57] (1918) Board of health ties up Hamilton during season approaching to Christmas. The Spectator, 29 November, 1.
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