Event Information

“Panic in the Streets”: Historical reflections on fear-based media messaging during acute public health crises

The Bullitt History of Medicine Club promotes the understanding and appreciation of the historical foundations upon which current medical knowledge and practice are constructed by encouraging social and intellectual exchanges between faculty members, medical students and members of the community.

In this program, Nancy Tomes (distinguished professor of history at Stony Brook University) will present her talk “Panic in the Streets.”

In public health, fear-based campaigns are regarded with caution and concern because their side effects of stigma and scapegoating can be so toxic. Those worries have been shaped by an awareness of the formidable power of traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV) and now the “new” social media to amplify public health messaging in unexpected and undesirable ways. In this talk, Tomes will present a brief history of what she terms the “panic problem” in American public health practice to stimulate a discussion of these questions: how do we motivate people to act in a public health crisis without inducing some degree of fear? Is there a place for healthy fear in public health messaging today, and if so, what would it look like?

Join in person at the Mary Ellen Jones Building, Room 3112. No registration required for the in-person component; masks encouraged.

Register for the livestream here: https://go.unc.edu/Tomes

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Lectures, Readings and Talks  


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Karina Soni