Publications

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Advocating for soda taxes: How oral health professionals fit in

BMSG's recent analysis of how soda tax debates are characterized in the news revealed that oral health professionals seldom appear. By elevating their expert voices, oral health practitioners can contribute new and salient arguments for soda taxes to the public discourse and help advance public policy that improves oral health outcomes. In this journal article for the California Dental Association, we propose media advocacy strategies that oral health professionals can use to increase their visibility in the news to make the case for soda taxes.

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Webinar: Changing the discourse about community violence: To prevent it, we have to talk about it

It will be easier to make the big changes our communities need to prevent violence if we change the narrative around it and make prevention a visible part of the conversation. In this webinar, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Prevention Institute and the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department discuss their recent study on news portrayals of community violence and how to shift the media's discourse to elevate prevention and multi-sector collaboration.

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Changing the discourse about community violence: To prevent it, we have to talk about it

It will be easier to make the big changes our communities need to prevent violence if we change the narrative around it and make prevention a visible part of the conversation. In this report, Berkeley Media Studies Group, in partnership with the Prevention Institute and with support from the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department, explores news portrayals of community violence and makes recommendations for how to shift one piece of the discourse — the news media — to elevate prevention and multi-sector collaboration.

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Workshop summary: Climate change and health communications

In October 2015, the Center for Climate Change and Health convened a group of 20 health and communication experts to discuss how past health communication campaigns can inform work on climate change. This summary of that workship, which was developed with consultation from BMSG's Lori Dorfman, includes insights from tobacco control, obesity prevention, media advocacy and health equity communications. It also features recommendations for policy-change goals, research, framing and messaging.

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Communication strategies to advance Vision Zero

This case study from the Vision Zero Network, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, examines the communication approaches that San Francisco and New York City have used to frame traffic deaths as preventable and foster both individual and institutional change. The case study includes contributions and insights from BMSG's Pamela Mejia on the media's role in influencing the public's and policymakers' perceptions of the issue.

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Webinar: The news about childhood trauma: Findings and implications

As part of a Futures Without Violence webinar series about children's exposure to trauma, BMSG's Pamela Mejia shares BMSG research on news portrayals of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The research found that news coverage of ACEs is on the rise but is still minimal compared to other public health issues. Mejia discusses opportunities for increasing the visibility of trauma in the media, showing how it is connected to other issues, and framing it as preventable. Listen to the webinar or view the slides or transcript

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Tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries -- why do public health practitioners view them so differently?

Public health officials often view food companies as legitimate partners in improving population health, even as they eschew interactions with the tobacco and alcohol industries. In this journal article for Frontiers in Public Health, BMSG's Lori Dorfman, along with colleagues from the U.S., U.K. and Germany, explore why this is the case, in spite of significant health harms associated with all three industries. They also make recommendations for steps that public health researchers can take to reduce harmful corporate influences on health.

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Webinar: Mind the gap: Framing the relationship between community retailers and community health

Developing effective, values-based messaging is an essential aspect of public health advocacy. In this webinar, Phil Wilbur, a consultant for the Berkeley Media Studies Group, discusses message framing as a crucial part of an overall strategy for tobacco control. Phil explains the concepts and contexts behind public health messages of prevention, and leaves viewers with takeaways for future message development that can help programs link problems to effective policy solutions.

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What surrounds us shapes us: Making the environmental case for tobacco control

Environments play a large role in influencing the public's health. Yet, in the United States, most people think that individuals are masters of their own destiny. Advocates can use this resource to learn how to create messages that broaden individual responsibility frames and help people see that environments affect health. When people understand that connection, they are more likely to support policies that improve those environments.

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Soda tax debates in Berkeley and San Francisco: An analysis of social media, campaign materials and news coverage

In this news analysis, we explore what arguments pro- and anti-tax campaigns made, how the soda industry was characterized in news coverage, and what this means for advocates looking to reduce soda consumption in other cities.

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Soda tax debates: A case study of Berkeley vs. Big Soda's social media campaign

Advocates can use this case study, produced in collaboration with our partners at John Snow, Inc., to strategize about using social media in their campaigns to pass sugary drink taxes, fight chronic diseases and protect public health.

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Infographic: Nine recommendations for sugary drink tax advocates

In 2014, the residents of Berkeley, California, launched an effort to institute the nation's first tax on sugary drinks. Along with our partners at JSI, we examined the social media activism surrounding the successful "Berkeley vs. Big Soda" campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Based on our findings, we offer nine recommendations for advocates looking to promote similar policy changes. 

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Video: How news media shapes our understanding of youth violence and sexual assault

As part of an Institute of Medicine workshop on the social and cultural norms that underlie the acceptance of violence, BMSG's Lori Dorfman discusses the role of the news media, how connections among violence, youth and race get distorted in news reports on crime, and the prevalence of language in the news that minimizes the act of sexual violence. She also addresses the need to reframe news coverage in ways that highlight the social context for violence and potential solutions.

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Corporate portrayals and perceptions in public health debates

BMSG's Lori Dorfman was among several public health panelists at the October 2015 European Public Health Conference in Milan, Italy. Drawing on recent BMSG research, Dorfman discussed U.S. news coverage of corporate actors in food and beverage policy debates.

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Talking about trauma: Findings and opportunities from an analysis of news coverage

Children who experience trauma are at an increased risk of developing mental and physical health issues later in life, with profound implications for every sector of society. Because the media play an important role in shaping policy, we examined the news to see how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are portrayed, and we identified opportunities for advocates to improve the volume and quality of coverage.

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Worksheet: Developing strategic messages [pdf]

To advance public health policy goals, advocates must know how to communicate strategically about the issue they want to address, why it matters, and what should be done about it. Use this worksheet to practice developing messages for your target audience.

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Worksheet: Answering hard questions [pdf]

Being strategic means anticipating your opposition's arguments and preparing for hard questions, whether they're from a news reporter, your target decision-maker(s), or even a community member who could one day become an ally. Use this worksheet with colleagues or others to brainstorm hard questions and practice your responses.

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Activity: Delivering effective messages [pdf]

It's one thing to develop a strategic message. It's an entirely different skill to deliver your message in a strategic way. Use this mock interview activity to help you stay on message and further your policy goals. 

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Worksheet: Creating a media advocacy calendar [pdf]

Creating a media advocacy calendar can help you identify key moments in the political process or opportunities — such as holidays, anniversaries or other key dates — that you can leverage to garner media attention. Use this worksheet to help you identify news hooks and prepare for newsworthy events in advance.

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Worksheet: Elements of newsworthiness [pdf]

Media coverage can provide a powerful way for advocates to shape public conversations and public policy. But gaining coverage requires understanding what makes an issue newsworthy. Use this worksheet to brainstorm ways to make your issue relevant to the media.

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'We're part of the solution': Evolution of the food and beverage industry's framing of obesity concerns between 2000 and 2012

How are food and beverage companies shaping public conversation on obesity and other nutrition-related diseases? How can advocates help denormalize industry tactics? In this paper for the American Journal of Public Health, we, along with our colleagues from the Public Health Advocacy Institute, analyzed news statements to learn what messages the food and beverage industry is using in response to obesity concerns, how messaging tactics have shifted over time, and implications for public health.

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Issue 22: What's missing from the news on sexual violence? An analysis of coverage, 2011-2013

Understanding how sexual violence appears in the media is important for advocates working to prevent it because news coverage offers insights into how the public and policymakers view the issue and what to do about it. In this Issue, BMSG explores how journalists characterize sexual violence, whether prevention is discussed, and what steps advocates and reporters can take to improve coverage. Read more >

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Case study of Shasta County Public Health: Health equity award winner for a small county practice [pdf]

This case study, part of a series developed by the Berkeley Media Studies Group and supported by The California Endowment (TCE), highlights the innovative work Shasta County Public Health is doing to advance health equity. Shasta was one of four health departments in California honored by TCE for its equity-oriented efforts in December 2014. To learn more, view the case study, full report, or companion videos.

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Case study of Sonoma County Department of Health Services: Health equity award winner for a medium county practice [pdf]

This case study, part of a series developed by the Berkeley Media Studies Group and supported by The California Endowment (TCE), highlights the innovative work that the Sonoma County Department of Health Services is doing to advance health equity. Sonoma was one of four health departments in California honored by TCE for its equity-oriented efforts in December 2014. To learn more, view the case study, full report, or companion videos.

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Case study of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health: Health equity award winner for a large county practice [pdf]

This case study, part of a series developed by the Berkeley Media Studies Group and supported by The California Endowment (TCE), highlights the innovative work happening in Los Angeles County to advance health equity. The L.A. County Department of Public Health was one of four health departments in California honored by TCE for its equity-oriented efforts in December 2014. To learn more, view the case study, full report, or companion videos.

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