Television News Coverage of Public Health Issues and Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice

Posted: 20 Jan 2020

See all articles by Sarah Gollust

Sarah Gollust

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Erika Franklin Fowler

Wesleyan University - Government

Jeff Niederdeppe

Cornell University

Date Written: April 2019

Abstract

Television (TV) news, and especially local TV news, remains an important vehicle through which Americans obtain information about health-related topics. In this review, we synthesize theory and evidence on four main functions of TV news in shaping public health policy and practice: reporting events and information to the public (surveillance); providing the context for and meaning surrounding health issues (interpretation); cultivating community values, beliefs, and norms (socialization); and attracting and maintaining public attention for advertisers (attention merchant). We also identify challenges for TV news as a vehicle for improving public health, including declining audiences, industry changes such as station consolidation, increasingly politicized content, potential spread of misinformation, and lack of attention to inequity. We offer recommendations for public health practitioners and researchers to leverage TV news to improve public health and advance health equity.

Suggested Citation

Gollust, Sarah and Franklin Fowler, Erika and Niederdeppe, Jeff, Television News Coverage of Public Health Issues and Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice (April 2019). Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 40, pp. 167-185, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3381474 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040218-044017

Sarah Gollust

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Erika Franklin Fowler

Wesleyan University - Government ( email )

United States

Jeff Niederdeppe (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

No Address Available

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