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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ebola: Fear the Fear not the Virus

Ebola: Fear the Fear not the Virus


Recent weeks have seen the proliferation of fear messaging about the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). The inconsistent messaging that has been targeted at the citizenry of the United Stated and Ohio residents in particular is nothing more than shameful. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the White House, and the media at large have unwittingly or perhaps purposefully created ambiguous messages about EVD that have led to wide spread panic and paralysis. Keeping children home from school out of fear of contracting EVD, servers in restaurants wearing gloves so as not to come in contact with a potential infected person are but a few futile behaviors that develop as a result of such ineffective messaging. Why are we engaging in fear control messages when we should be sending messages designed not only to educate the public but also have them engage in proactive behaviors that serve to mitigate any perceived or real threat? Messages resulting in fear control paralyze publics and have no value as to actually addressing any given threat. Further, fear control messages result in wide-spread hysteria and panic that could threaten public safety. Such irresponsible messaging is not limited to the CDC, White House, and media outlets. If we are to truly take risk and crisis messaging seriously, we need to engage in message creation designed to control danger or danger control messages. Being told by government officials that “they are on it” or “there is nothing to worry about” do little for public safety. These types of messages fuel uncertainty and speculation. Instead, danger control messages advocate not only a realistic degree of susceptibility to the threat but also advocates behaviors that people can engage in to mitigate their susceptibility to the risk. Messages that are designed to educate and advocate are ALWAYS more favorable and effective than messages designed to threaten, perpetuate fear, and do not advocate any proactive behavior on the part of the public. I hope that after the Ebola Virus Disease hype dies down and the media moves on to their next “if it bleeds it leads” story, all of us reflect on how the spread of ineffective fear messages was so much more far reaching than EVD ever was. It is in the realm of health communication, risk communication, and crisis communication where effective messages can be created, disseminated, and assessed. The containment of Ebola Virus Disease is indeed an entity best addressed by healthcare personnel. The messaging about Ebola Virus Disease is indeed and entity best addressed by communication professionals.


Theodore A. Avtgis, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair

Department of Communication Studies

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dr. Rodriguez Spotlight in UTSA's Sombrillo Magazine

The University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA) alum, our own Dr. Dariela Rodriguez, was interviewed by her alma mater's alumni magazine, Sombrillo, in which she talks about Ashland University and the Master of Arts in Heath & Risk Communication. Click here to read the article.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dr. Avtgis Presents at ECA

Theodore A. Avtgis, Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies, presented two papers titled "The Impact of Communication Technology on Healthcare Organizations and Patient-Provider Interaction" and "Recent Research Involving Biological Approaches toward Understanding Trait Verbal Aggressiveness 2010-2014" at the annual meeting of the Eastern Communication Association in Providence, RI.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tending Two Gardens: Cultivating Career and Family

Deleasa Randall-Griffiths, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, attended the Central States Communication Association Conference in Minneapolis April 2-5. She presented a paper titled “Tending Two Gardens: Cultivating Career and Family” as part of the panel on “Women and Work: Heightening Women’s Experience of negotiating Multiple identities” sponsored by the Women’s Caucus. She also presented “Home Sweet Academic Home: Witnessing Change over the Decades” as part of the panel “’Home’ on the Academic Range: What Factors Elevate the Chances of an Institutional ‘Fit’?” sponsored by the CSCA First Vice-President. Finally, Dr. Randall-Griffiths presented an activity on self-concept and identity titled “I am….” as part of a Great Ideas for Teaching session sponsored by the G.I.F.T Interest Group.