Framing COVID-19: Fear appeal messaging in print media in Namibia and South Africa

Sarah Chiumbu, Nkosinothando Mpofu, Konosoang Sobane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Fear appeals are persuasive messages that attempt to arouse fear to motivate or influence behaviour change and are widely used in health promotion. This chapter analyses how fear appeal messaging was used by the Namibian and South African mainstream print media to communicate COVID-19 during the two countries' main waves of the pandemic. Specifically, we examine the framing strategies that the media used to persuade behaviour change. Mainstream media has enormous potential to influence health-related behaviour and perceptions. Therefore, it is compelling to examine the mainstream media's framing of COVID-19. This study draws on framing theory to examine media frames and the use of fear appeal in the coverage of COVID-19 in the top English-language newspapers in the two countries. We argue in this chapter that using fear appeals in public health communication by the media may be counterproductive as a tool of persuasion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOVID-19 and the Media in Sub-Saharan Africa
Subtitle of host publicationMedia Viability, Framing and Health Communication
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781803822716
ISBN (Print)9781803822730
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Fear appeals
  • Framing
  • Media
  • Namibia
  • Persuasive message
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Framing COVID-19: Fear appeal messaging in print media in Namibia and South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this