Newspaper articles from conventional media sources and Twitter feeds were collected using keyword and hashtag searches for 2009-2015 to encompass two major algal bloom outbreaks in 2011 and 2014. A content analysis, guided by the SARF framework was conducted to characterize risks associated with toxic algae blooms based on: (1) media framing, (2) expert opinion, and (3) public response.
Preliminary results reveal that the majority of conventional and Twitter activity related to toxic algal blooms can be sourced to expert groups such as scientists or public organization, issue warnings or assuring the public of the safety of beaches and drinking water. Public response as gauged by Twitter, on the other hand, frames Lake Erie water as unsafe for recreation and drinking.
Preliminary data shows some mismatch between expert and lay interpretations of risk, suggesting that processes of social amplification may be occurring. Future research will examine differences in perception over time and between public perception and official risk metrics.