Media Study Examines How Celiacs Use Online Resources

September 16, 2010

Media Study Examines How Celiacs Use Online Resources

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Gluten-free blogs and social media are go-to sources for celiac information.

Celiacs tout the value of gluten-free blogs and forums, but a new study proves just how much the community depends on those tips and tweets.

Presented at a recent journalism education conference, “Hungry for News: How celiac sufferers learn from media, each other” identifies user-generated content, not traditional media, as the most popular source of celiac information. While mainstream news occasionally covers celiac disease or the gluten-free diet, many reports confuse the condition’s complex details. Bloggers, however, often have personal experience with the disease and are vested in providing accurate information.

“These bloggers behave like a network of citizen journalists, doing the hard work of vetting claims and demanding accuracy of each other, lest someone get sick on bad advice,” the author noted.

Interviews for the study also indicated that access to celiac disease information and awareness of gluten-free needs have improved in recent years. Social media and celebrity advocates have called attention to the disease, and celiacs are celebrating the results.

“Awareness means the chef doesn’t look at me funny when I tell him I can’t have gluten contamination in my food. I think also it goes some way to alerting people who are not well that this may be the cause,” noted Palm Beach Post reporter Sonja Isger , who has celiac disease.

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