245343 Wake up to health: Describing the coverage of health in Spanish-language morning news programming

Monday, October 31, 2011

Shauna Harrison, PhD, MA, MPH , Department of Health, Behavior & Society, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Ann C. Klassen, PhD , Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA
Public health campaigns, interventions and programs go to great lengths to incorporate elements that are culturally sensitive and appropriate. This is often accomplished through the dissemination of culturally and linguistically framed health information, which enhances relevancy for the receiver. Ethnic and foreign-language media outlets are generally founded on these principles; cultural and linguistic appropriateness is fundamental to their existence. Therefore, an examination of how Spanish-language news media present health information is fruitful for our understanding of successful (or effective) communication to the Spanish-speaking Latino population. ‘Soft' news is often overlooked as a health information source and its human-interest, incident-based and entertainment focused format is particularly revealing for culturally and linguistically linked elements. Here, the presentation of health information in the morning news program, Despierta América (DA) is examined from April-October 2009 using observational methods and Ethnographic Content Analysis. The context in which health information is presented may have elements that access deep structure dimensions of cultural sensitivity and appropriateness. In particular, the program is set in a house, with the hosts referring to themselves, guests and even the audience as the DA family; an element that incorporates the core cultural values of “familialism” and “collectivism” to the program's foundation. Thus, health information presented within this context would inherently have the same foundation. Coverage of health information was found both in news and non-news segments, the latter generally being lengthier, more personal and with a less serious tone. Health categories of cancer, nutrition/physical activity and H1N1 received a great deal of coverage and are relevant to the Latino community. Findings from this study provide a needed foundation for future research in the utilization of under-researched areas of health communications such as ‘soft' news programs and specialized media in health communication.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
To describe how elements of a “soft” news format such as the morning news program Despierta América may inherently enhance relevancy of information for Spanish-speaking viewers.

Keywords: Latino Health, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: It is my dissertation research
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.