Meta messaging framing your case and reinforcing your allies

Advocates working on issues as different as gay marriage and affordable housing can construct messages that serve their own immediate strategic needs and, at the same time, echo one another's larger goals for social change. This memo explains why we think that's possible and how to do it.

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Issue 15: Obesity crisis or soda scapegoat? The debate over selling soda in schools

In 1999 a Venice High School student asked a simple question: Can the school sell 100% fruit juice in its vending machines? No, said the school -- our soda contract forbids it. The ensuing battle led the Los Angeles School Board to ban the sale of soda on its campuses. In Issue 15, we dissect the debate in news coverage of the soda sales bans and find that by acknowledging the complexity of the obesity crises, supporters of the soda sales bans may be undermining their own arguments.

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Auto hazard control: Lessons for addressing obesity from the history of auto hazard control

Death and injury from motor vehicle crashes had reached epidemic levels by the 1950s and continues at unacceptably high levels today. The lessons learned in failed and successful attempts to reduce auto crash losses can provide guideposts for obesity control efforts.

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Accelerating policy on nutrition: Lessons from tobacco, alcohol, firearms and traffic safety -- preliminary report [pdf]

This preliminary report captures advice from a meeting that uncovered practical experience from specific policy battles in tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and traffic safety to help public health funders and practitioners identify how to speed up progress on obesity. These lessons are integrated into the final report. The appendix outlines the components of an infrastructure to support policy advocacy to prevent and reduce obesity.

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Alcohol: Lessons for addressing obesity from the history of alcohol control

Alcohol policy work has a number of important similarities to nutrition and fitness policy. Looking back at its successes and challenges holds important lessons for advocates wanting to shape policy on childhood obesity.

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Guns: Lessons for addressing obesity from a public health approach to gun violence

This memorandum reviews the history of the public health approach to gun violence prevention, with a focus on certain aspects of firearm policy-making in the United States, to determine what lessons from those experiences may relate to policy changes regarding nutrition and obesity.

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Obesity: Environmental strategies for preventing childhood obesity

Childhood overweight and physical inactivity have reached epidemic levels in the United States, and they are taking a terrible toll on health. This memo explores the prevalence of the problem, its causes and implications, and some of the issues that are blocking the development of a strong consumer-based movement aimed at prevention.

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Tobacco: Lessons for addressing obesity from the history of tobacco control

Understanding the shift in tobacco control from primarily behavioral approaches toward policy approaches can provide insight into a winning strategy that can be applied to obesity prevention.

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Accelerating policy on nutrition: Lessons from tobacco, alcohol, firearms and traffic safety -- appendix [pdf]

This appendix to the preliminary report outlines the components of an infrastructure to support policy advocacy to prevent and reduce obesity: policy advocacy support, bridging, and media advocacy. It also describes 20 research questions for accelerating progress on obesity.

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Making the case for early care and education: A message development guide for advocates [pdf]

We wrote this handbook to help the national child care community communicate effectively with journalists and others. The guide summarizes public opinion and media research on child care and provides a menu of tested messages for advocates. It is modeled after a similar document created in the 1980s by the Advocacy Institute to assist tobacco-control advocates. The appendix contains a report from Ethel Klein, who conducted the public opinion research BMSG commissioned for the message guide.

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Mobilizing support for child care: Five key messages [pdf]

This appendix to Making the Case for Early Care and Education: A Message Development Guide for Advocates contains a report from Ethel Klein of EDK Associates in New York, who conducted the public opinion research BMSG commissioned for the message guide.

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Issue 14: Making the case for paid family leave: How California's landmark law was framed in the news

On September 24, 2002, California made history as the first state in the nation to enact paid family leave. Issue 14 shows how the battle for paid family leave was framed by opponents and proponents in California and national news coverage. It also provides insights for both advocates and journalists as paid family leave moves into implementation in California and onto the public agenda in other states across the nation.

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Food and beverage industry marketing practices aimed at children: Developing strategies for preventing obesity and diabetes [pdf]

Public health professionals working to prevent childhood obesity want to know the best avenues of addressing food and beverage marketing aimed at children. This report looks at the relationship between the way foods and beverages are marketed to children and the rising trends in childhood overweight and explores strategies that might engage the food and beverage industry in reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

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Bucking tobacco sponsorship at rodeos: Strategies for media advocacy and public engagement [pdf]

This report offers a media advocacy plan to counter the aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry at family sporting events. It aims to shift the focus from current arguments that frame tobacco marketing as a children's issue back to an issue of irresponsible industry marketing.

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Issue 13: Distracted by drama: How California newspapers portray intimate partner violence

Battered women's advocates and feminist scholars have long complained about how intimate partner violence appears in the news. But because the evidence has been anecdotal, the extent that U.S. news media downplay violence against women has been difficult to gauge. Do most news stories blame the victim? Do they mitigate the perpetrator? Overall, how is intimate partner violence depicted in newspapers? We decided to find out by examining a year's worth of articles in two major newspapers.

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Website: Health and safety

This prototype website incorporates data and resources about violence to show how journalists can use a data-driven approach to crime reporting. It can also serve as a model for web-based reporting on other public health issues. Learn here about how web shells can enhance coverage of violence and other issues.

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Voices for change: A taxonomy of public communications campaigns and their evaluation challenges [pdf]

The Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington DC commissioned this paper as part of a collaborative project designed to research, develop, test, and disseminate principles for evaluating nonprofit communications. The paper profiles various strategic communication campaigns that differ in purpose, scope, and maturity to identify the evaluation challenges each presents in its messy real-world context.

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Youth violence stories focus on events, not causes

A content analysis of three major California newspapers shows that routine coverage about youth crimes fails to provide context to help readers make sense of such events. This context should include the contributions to violent behavior that poverty, inadequate schools, discrimination, abuse, easy access to weapons, the over-commercialization of liquor, and other environmental factors make. Unreported, these elements have less chance of being understood and remedied.

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Issue 12: American values and the news about children's health

The term "values" often acts as political shorthand, usually for the political agenda of social conservatives. Yet values systems are crucial to any political culture. How competing American value systems of individualism and what we call interconnection are represented in news stories will influence readers' interpretations of the stories. The news about children's health provides a useful lens for analyzing American values in the news since both conservative and progressive voices claim to "leave no child behind."

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Issue 11: Silent revolution: How U.S. newspapers portray child care

In an information economy dependent on education, child care brims with news value. But an analysis of national news on child care shows that is far from the case. Issue 11 compares every story about child care published on the business pages of 11 newspapers in 1999 and 2000 to child care stories in other parts of the same newspapers to see not only how frequent coverage is, but also how the stories are framed and who gets quoted the most within them.

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What a health and safety section or 'shell' looks like on a news organization's website

Context and continuity are hard to come by in print and television. But on the web, stories of the day can be presented as part of web "shells," packages that contain links to data, community resources, stories that have been previously published, and background information.

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Reporting on violence: New ideas for print, television and web [pdf]

This reporter's handbook offers data, resources and suggestions on how to develop data-driven crime and violence stories. We have distributed nearly 1,000 copies to reporters and others in more than 131 news media outlets, journalism programs or affiliated organizations in California and across the country.

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Issue 10: Newspaper coverage of childhood nutrition policies

Childhood obesity is on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions. Public health advocates have many mechanisms to arrest this trend, but are they getting the attention of policy makers through the news? To find out, Issue 10 analyzes two years of news coverage on childhood nutrition issues in California's major newspapers.

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Reporting on violence: Bringing a public health perspective into the newsroom

This case study documents how journalists can be meaningfully engaged on this topic with people from public health despite typical barriers to access faced by public health practitioners and solid resistance from many editors and reporters. The authors describe goals, objectives, and activities across five daily newspapers along with journalists' reactions, concerns, and resistance to the issues raised.

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Off balance: Youth, race & crime in the news [pdf]

This report assesses findings from content analyses on crime news, investigating whether news coverage reflects actual crime trends; how news coverage depicts minorities and crime; and whether news coverage disproportionately depicts minority youth as perpetrators.

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