Analysing audience reception on health reporting : an analysis of the eNCA news' coverage of the Ebola outbreak.
BBC News reports, an estimation of 28 607 recorded cases and 11 314 deaths caused by the Ebola virus. The deaths swept across six countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and the United States of America between the 23rd of March and the 1st of November 2015. This research sought to understand the encoding and decoding process of an audience watching the eNCA news. Specific news bulletins on the Ebola outbreak were selected by the researcher to give an effective investigation on how the eNCA covered the Ebola outbreak. Health experts were interviewed in regards to the media coverage of the Ebola outbreak. The reception theory was the main tool used for this research, complimented by the theory of representation and identity. The researcher also gives a hermeneutic understanding of the eNCA bulletins on Ebola, semiotically analysing images from the bulletins. By so doing, the researcher interrogates the use of the visual and verbal composition of the text in efforts to understand the reading deduced by the focus group participants involved in this study. The researcher also provides a contextual background of Ebola and the countries directly affected by it in an effort to paint a picture of the disastrous effects of the disease. The influence of social and cultural background in decoding media messages was evident when some of the audience obtained a negotiated and or oppositional reading from the messages the eNCA projected. This research illustrated how numerous factors influence how an audience internalises information and how African media should break from stereotypical images and employ the use of positive images when reporting on African issues.