Public health in the media
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Public Health in the Media. Patterns of health reporting in the media. King’s Fund work. Health in the News: Risk, Reporting and Media influence (2003) Media and Public Health: a consultation conducted on behalf of the Department of Health (June 2004) . HEALTH IN THE NEWS: RESEARCH FOCUS.

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Public Health in the Media

Patterns of health reporting in the media

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King’s Fund work

  • Health in the News: Risk, Reporting and Media influence (2003)

  • Media and Public Health: a consultation conducted on behalf of the Department of Health (June 2004)

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  • Exploring views of public health experts and policy makers on media coverage of health issues

  • Analysis of news content in selected media outlets on a range of health issues

  • Reporters and editors asked for their views on the research findings and why stories make the news.

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  • Mostly unhappy with way health covered in the media

  • Neglected issues important to public health

  • Give undue prominence to scare stories and NHS issues

  • Don’t convey risk accurately

  • Understand journalists priorities – but regret news culture which is ‘Short-termist, simple, politically driven’

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HEALTH IN THE NEWS: Content Analysis

  • All health coverage for

  • BBC News – Sept 2000-Sept 2001

    • The Ten, Newsnight, 5 Live, 8am News

  • Newspapers - Oct-Dec 2002

    • Guardian, Mirror and Mail –

      19 categories – Later recoded into 8.

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Does it matter?

  • Impacts on public behaviour – eg MMR

  • Policy makers sometimes take cue from the media

  • Government priorities and spending patterns influence media agendas and public behaviour in ways that are mutually reinforcing (e.g. waiting lists)

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  • Part of the Department of Health’s “Choosing Health” consultation for the White Paper

  • Could we consult “the media” on their attitudes?

  • Could we do it in month?

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  • Did anyone in media feel it was their responsibility to cover public health?

  • Did anyone feel responsible towards the health of their readers/viewers?

  • Could the government do anything differently to get their message across?

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  • Round table seminar of journalists (n=9)

  • Telephone interviews (n=16)

  • Quick survey of crude story numbers on NEON

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  • NHS: not so interesting anymore

  • Personal experience

  • Public finds it interesting

  • Because we’re on the road to financial ruin if we don’t do something about it

  • NOT because the government is concerned about it

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  • I have no intention of becoming the purveyor of Government propaganda, or of being used as a mouthpiece for any organisation or business concern. My first duty is to defend the editorial independence of this paper

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  • No sense of responsibility to help the government to get their message across

  • Some sense of responsibility to readers or listeners’ health

  • Overall responsibility to “the story”

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  • “Idle Eric”: Newcastle Evening Chronicle

  • “Lose More in 2004” (as above)

  • ITV’s “Britain On The Move” campaign

  • “A Chance To Live” campaign: Northern Echo

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  • It’s one of the biggest issues facing our country and the people in this area- there’s a lot of eating pies and chips, drinking and smoking tabs here, and it’s got to be tackled

  • I’m sure we’ve saved lives of people in our area and improved health. I think we are very proud of that

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  • Anti government papers: suspicious of everything

  • BBC News: question everything

  • “it makes you look like a brave and honest journalist to say government’s got it all wrong”, than to say “hmmm, maybe they’ve got it right”

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  • BSE, MMR: sense that Government is not always being honest

  • Civil servants: sometimes frightened to talk

  • Over controlling government: has the reverse effect

  • Regional experience: no better?

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  • We banged our head against a brick wall with one PCT who could not see the benefits of joining forces with us initially. They simply couldn’t see the opportunity staring them in face, thousands of pounds worth of free publicity .. they were blind to it .

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  • Some media are very “engaged”

  • Bandwagon is difficult to steer: impact hard to measure

  • Mistrust of government simmering

  • Role for an independent purveyor of fine quality public health information?