Hearing loss is not an issue that the media seems to make a priority when it comes to writing about it. The absence of hearing rarely ranks as a severe issue nor newsworthy. The 50 million people who experience hearing loss do know too well how serious the problem is. It may be astonishing for the media to understand that hearing loss is not just an issue for older adults, thanks to the presence of earbuds and iPods. Hearing loss is also a severe condition for veterans. So how does the print media portray the loss of hearing and the use of hearing aids and how has the portrayal changed over time? A new study is attempting to answer these questions regarding hearing loss and its representation within the media.
The recent research examines how newspapers portray hearing loss and hearing aids. In particular, the research looks at the patterns utilized in newspaper articles and how those patterns have changed over time. The study considers the power the media has in shaping society’s perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs and how that power can influence the public’s knowledge of hearing health.
The researchers used a cross-sectional analysis of secondary data from publicly available newspapers. Hearing loss and hearing aids were the terms searched in the newspaper articles published between 1990 and 2017. The researchers generated two separate databases and analyzed them based on text patterns. Time series analysis indications showed the frequency of information for these terms to expand over time. It remains mysterious if this was due to an increase in interest in these topics, an upsurge in the number of media outlets, or a combination of the two. These observations do highlight the trend of issues covered in newspapers, reflecting discussions in hearing health at a certain point in time.
The study emphasizes the need for hearing healthcare professionals to stay current with the media in regards to hearing health. They must monitor the information about hearing health that the public receives as it is crucial to instruct the public about hearing loss and the management of hearing loss. Being familiar with the topics that receive media coverage helps to engage patients as well as establish credibility for the practitioner. Hearing health topics on social media can also promote communication between hearing healthcare professionals and their patients. The study authors encourage hearing healthcare professionals to take an active role in shaping the information that the public gets from the media. Hearing healthcare professionals and the media can work together to deliver healthy hearing information to the general public.
Hearing loss is not breaking news, but for 50 million people, it is a huge issue. It is vital that hearing healthcare professionals become involved in monitoring the information that the media provides to the general public regarding hearing health. They must ensure that the information regarding hearing loss is accurate for the people who need the information the most.