Cancer Language in the Press
I have written before about the power (sometimes positive and sometimes destructive) of language. So much of the common vocabulary around cancer is military ("war", "fought" etc) and some is blaming ("She failed chemo X"). This is an interesting article from the American Communication Journal about language in the press. Specifically, it explores the choice between "survivor" and "victim". As some of you know, I don't like either (especially I don't like "victim"), but haven't yet come up with a good substitute. If you have ideas, please share them.
Here is the introduction and then a link:
Images of the War on Cancer in the Associated Press: Centering Survivors and Marginalizing Victims
Jo Anna Grant & Heather Hundley
Using the war metaphor for cancer, the media often label those with cancer as either victims or survivors but it is unclear what determines which label is used. We used content and discourse analysis to examine 296 Associated Press photos, captions, and titles of cancer victims and cancer survivors from 1995-2005. Survivors were portrayed more often (n = 235) than victims (n = 61). Pediatric cancers were more associated with cancer victims (n = 26) than survivors (n = 13). Women were more often connected to cancer (women 58.8%, men 41.2%), and more frequently represented as cancer survivors (75.4%). International photos (n = 30) were more likely to be depicted as cancer victims. Comparing our analysis to the National Cancer Institute statistics, we argue that these texts discursively marginalized foreigners and centered U.S. women and cancer survivors through four strategies: (1) disproportionate frequencies, (2) demographic profiles, (3) portrayals of responsibility, and (4) the depiction of agency.