Prof. Ubaka Ogbogu examines media portrayals of essential services during pandemic

Co-authored paper focuses on inclusion of liquor and cannabis stores as essential

Sarah Kent - 11 February 2021

Associate Professor Ubaka Ogbogu of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law has co-authored a new paper on the media’s portrayal of essential health-care services during the pandemic.

The paper, “Media representations of COVID-19 public health policies: assessing the portrayal of essential health services in Canadian print media,” appears in the journal, BMC Public Health, and was co-authored with Prof. Lorian Hardcastle of the University of Calgary.

Analyzing articles published by Canadian newspapers between March and April 2020, the study focuses on the public health decision to deem liquor and cannabis stores essential, which garnered public criticism despite support from experts who endorsed the availability of these services for health reasons.

Ogbogu and Hardcastle note that few articles discussed essential services and the inclusion of liquor and cannabis stores as essential.

They conclude that the media largely failed to meaningfully engage with this topic, missing a valuable opportunity for public education on a health policy issue informed by expert opinions.