Italian news coverage of radiation in the early decades of the twentieth century: A qualitative and quantitative analysis

Andrea Candela, Federico Pasquarè Mariotto

This work uses a qualitative approach coupled with a quantitative software-based methodology to examine the Italian news media coverage of radiation in the early decades of the twentieth century. We analyze 80 news stories from two of the most influential Italian newspapers from that time: La Stampa (a daily newspaper) and La Domenica del Corriere (an Italian Sunday supplement). While much of previous research on media coverage of scientific topics was generally focused on present-day news, our work revolves around the ground-breaking discovery of X-rays and radioactivity at the dawn of the last century. Our analysis aims to identify journalistic frames in the news coverage of radiation that journalists might have used to emphasize the benefits (or the risks) of the new discoveries. We also hypothesize how this kind of news coverage might have influenced public perception of technological, commercial, and public health applications of the new scientific advancements.

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