Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Public Health Studies: Community Health Promotion and University Honors
OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
The realms of drug policy and immigration policy have long been fueled by misinformation, where sensationalism and panics help shore up political support. Most recently, the “border crisis” has been invoked to explain the “overdose crisis” in mass media narratives. Although the increase in migration is being blamed for illicit drug flows, drug importation occurs primarily through legal points-of-entry. The extent and excess visibility of false narratives linking overdose to migration in mainstream media is unknown.
We used the Media Cloud ecosystem to compile and characterize mainstream media content published between June 2021 and July 2021 regarding the migration on the southwest border and how it relates to illicit drug flows.
We identified 102 relevant articles. In this sample, 80% of articles articulated misinformation. Only two articles were corrective by accurately asserting that illicit drugs flow primarily through legal points-of-entry.
Misinformation regarding drugs and the border have proliferated in mass media, where corrective narratives are sparse. Excess visibility of misinformation on causes of key societal challenges drives misguided public policy and inhibits successful responses to public health crises.
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Godvin, Morgan E., "Dual Panics: A Media Analysis of Narratives on the Role of Unauthorized Migration in America's Overdose Crisis" (2021). University Honors Theses. Paper 1124.