Advancing public health goals through mass media

Using the mass media to improve public health can be like navigating a vast network of roads without any street signs -- if you are not sure where you are going and why, chances are you won't get there. The purpose of this article is to provide an abbreviated road map of three approaches that incorporate mass media in their strategies to advance public health goals.

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Spanish language television news portrayals of youth and violence in California

This exploratory study takes those who may be unfamiliar with Spanish language television news through a comparative analysis of television portrayals of youth and violence. Findings reveal that local Spanish language TV news stories on youth and/or violence are framed with a social, political, and economic context three and a half times more often than such stories in English language local TV news.

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Media strategies for community health advocacy

Health is typically seen as a matter of individual responsibility -- eating well, avoiding tobacco, exercising. Yet this view overlooks important social and economic variables that contribute to disease, disability and injury. This article shows that health care providers have an important role to play in advocacy efforts to push for policies that improve those variables.

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Henry Horner Mothers Guild: Tenants go public on public housing [pdf]

This is the story of a group of women who, with limited resources, used media advocacy to challenge misconceptions about public housing tenants and cast residents of Chicago's housing projects as empowered advocates rather than cliched victims of crime, poverty and hopelessness.

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Media advocacy: A strategy for empowering people and communities

Media advocacy, the strategic use of mass media to advance public policy initiatives, is a new strategy that is emerging in the public health community, particularly in communities of color. Unlike traditional mass media strategies, media advocacy shifts the focus from the individual to the political, from behavior to the environment -- a major determinant of health.

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Physicians as advocates: Promoting healthy public policy via the media

Research and historical experience have established that major health determinants are not located as much in individual behavior as in the social and physical environment. Physicians can -- and should -- use the media's power to help advocate for policies that can improve that environment. They can do so using a strategy known as media advocacy. This article explains how.

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The Berkeley Media Studies Group: Media advocacy for healthy public policy

Public health professionals, advocates and community groups often criticize the news media for "not getting the story right." But there is an alternative to just complaining about the news. Using a strategy called media advocacy, public health advocates can help shape how journalists tell social and public health stories, and, in turn, influence policy makers' opinions and actions regarding policies that affect health. This article describes BMSG's approach to putting media advocacy into practice.

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Advertising health: The case for counter-ads [pdf]

Public service advertisements have been used by many in hopes of "selling" good health behaviors. But behavior is only part of what determines health. Such advertising may be doing more harm than good if it diverts attention from socially based health promotion strategy. Counter-ads are one strategy that can promote a broader responsibility and place health issues in a social and political context.

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Media advocacy and public health: Power for prevention

How we think about health problems, and what we do about them, is largely determined by how they are reported on television, radio and in the newspapers. Often, crucial issues of public health policy are debated and decided on only after they are made visible by the media. In this book, we discuss the concept of media advocacy as a central strategy for the prevention of public health problems. We also lay out the theoretical framework and practical guidelines to successful media advocacy strategies and include case studies on such vital issues as AIDS and alcohol abuse.

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Health messages on television commercials

This article contains findings from a content analysis of health messages found in television commercial time including advertisements, public service announcements (PSAs), editorials, and promotions for upcoming programs. Overall, 31% of the 654 commercial spots contained health messages, and most health messages were claims of good nutrition in food and beverage advertisements. No PSA addressed tobacco, alcohol, or diet, the 3 leading behavioral risk factors for poor health.

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Television news, hegemony and health (letter)

The media frame stories to fit dominant perceptions of social problems, making the news an important vehicle for agenda-setting. Yet a content analysis of 20 hour-long segments of health messages on television revealed that health stories were not presented from a public health perspective. Rather, as this letter published in the American Journal of Public Health shows, stories focused more on medical technology, risk factors, and individual behavior or responsibility.

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