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The 2020 toilet paper stockpiling phenomenon: a media analysis revealing the role of the news media in toilet paper hoarding

Faculty Advisor




toilet paper, stockpiling, hoarding, headlines, images

Abstract (summary)

This paper aims to examine the influence that the news media has on the population by exploring how the news media influenced people to stockpile toilet paper in March and April 2020. The method that I used is media analysis. I analyzed articles published in March and April 2020 about toilet paper hoarding.I discuss the specific techniques used to urge readers to participate in the craze. I observed two main components that most articles about toilet paper had in common. The two components are fear-inducing images and captivating headlines. People were exposed to articles like this on digital and printed newspapers and, consequently, social media. However, this paper focuses on digital news articles. These articles promoted a sense of urgency, and many people took part in toilet paper hoarding as a result. Stockpiling was a global phenomenon, and many news outlets in almost every country published articles about the craze; however, this analysis focuses on Canadian news outlets. My data sources are various Canadian mass news articles with relevant content published in the aforementioned time frame. The results of this research indicate that the news media did not intentionally push people to stockpile toilet paper, which is evident because almost all of the articles mentioned that stockpiling was not necessary and even discouraged it. However, because it was a global phenomenon and needed to be reported on, the media did publish many articles about it, which drew attention to the issue. There were also many headlines and images published that were agents in influencing people to stockpile.

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Student Report




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