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The Role of Journalism on YouTube: Audience Engagement with ‘Superbug’ Reporting

Journal article
Authors Monika Djerf-Pierre
Mia Lindgren
Mikayla Alexis Budinski
Published in Media and Communication
Volume 7
Issue 1
Pages 235-247
ISSN 2183–2439
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Centre for antibiotic resistance research, CARe
Pages 235-247
Language en
Keywords antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial resistance, audience engagement, popular science, social media, superbugs, user comments, video journalism, YouTube
Subject categories Media and Communications


Journalism has gradually become ‘normalized into social media’, and most journalists use social media platforms to publish their work (Bruns, 2018). YouTube is an influential social media platform, reaching over a billion users worldwide. Its extensive reach attracts professional and amateur video producers who turn to YouTube to inform, entertain and engage global publics. Focusing on YouTube, this study explores the place for journalism within this media ecology. This study uses a mixed-method approach to examine forms of audience engagement to YouTube videos about antimicrobial resistance (AMR), or so called “superbugs”, caused by overuse and misuse of antibiotics. The analysis focuses on the most viewed YouTube videos about AMR between 2016 and 2018, and compares engagement themes expressed in comments to journalistic videos with popular science videos. The most viewed videos about AMR on YouTube are professionally produced educational popular science videos. The qualitative analysis of 3,049 comments identifies seven main forms of high-level engagement, including expressions of emotions, blame and calls for action. This study shows that journalism plays an important role on YouTube by generating audience discussions about social and political accountability. Our findings demonstrate that journalism videos were associated with propositions for political, economic and social/lifestyle actions, while popular science videos were associated with medicines, scientific or pseudo-scientific, and medical practice changes.

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