Society for Medical Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Valorie Crooks (Simon Fraser University)
Jeremy Snyder (SImon Fraser University)
Medical crowdfunding is an increasingly common place for Canadians to turn to when seeking financial help for medical needs. Crowdfunding literature is currently analyzing the digital world as a location for dialogical exchanges of illness and suffering. Studies have found that factors such as social media, large social networks and inclusion of images and videos contribute significantly to campaign success, which creates momentum for the campaign. Additional momentum is often observed when a crowdfunding campaign receives local newspaper or television coverage. We identified journalists and reporters in the Canadian media as being persons with an intellectual familiarity of crowdfunding campaigns based on their exposure to the phenomenon. Fourteen semi-structured interviews with Canadian media professionals were conducted to gain insight into the ways that crowdfunding campaigns are used, reproduced and dispersed for public consumption in the media. This analysis revealed the role and responsibilities of the journalist as an intermediary, to discern which crowdfunding stories will make the news. The findings suggest that the media professional covering a campaign has a threefold responsibility when reporting: responsibility to the story, to the campaigner and to their profession. The media professional must evaluate the noteworthiness of a story considering reader fatigue, legitimacy and privacy for the campaigner and to raise public awareness about health system limitations. Crowdfunding in the media can drastically change the outcome of a campaign, and as such, the role of the media professional is important to evaluate the campaign and communication of these illness narratives.