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Heat wave in France: how did the media treat the crisis?

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 09 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:876
  1. Laurent Boyer, public health doctor (,
  2. Stephane Robitail, public health doctor,
  3. Pascal Auquier, professor
  1. Public Health Department, School of Medicine, Marseilles University, Marseilles

    In 2003 France suffered the hottest summer of the last 50 years. By the end of the heat wave the French Institute of Health and Medical Research said there had been 14 802 deaths related to the heat. Failure to grasp the severity of the crisis probably delayed timely decision making by public officials.

    Main topics of heat related reports

    The first heat related death was reported nationally on 9 August. Because selection and interpretation of news content depends—whether consciously or unconsciously—on the expectations of the general public and various pressure groups, analysing media coverage is a way to gauge a country's attitude to a given event.

    We analysed the content of press …

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