Second class : local and elite media framing of poverty in the Appalachian opioid epidemic
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The opioid epidemic has disproportionately affected the rural Appalachian region, and poverty is a root cause of this. However, both poverty and the Appalachian region are historically under-covered and negatively framed in media -- a result, some say, of journalism’s concentration in expensive, coastal cities that are inaccessible to people of lower classes. This study examines how an outlet’s geographic location influences its coverage of class by comparing local and elite coverage of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia. A textual analysis of media coverage revealed a widespread lack of discussion of systemic, class-related factors as contributors to Appalachia’s opioid epidemic and an elite tendency to portray Appalachia and its people as different from the rest of the country. These findings suggest an industry-wide class bias, as well as an elite-specific geographic bias. Such findings suggest a need for greater accessibility in the journalism field in general and grater geographic diversity among elite outlets in particular.