247817 A Poverty of Information: Public Health and the Local Television News

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 11:30 AM

Judi T. Haberkorn, PhD, MBA, MPH, MSW , Department of Social and Public Health, Ohio University, Athens, OH
RuthAnn Althaus, MBA, MPH, PhD , Department of Social and Public Health, Ohio University, Athens, OH
In any democratic society, the media serves as a formidable agent of information dissemination. The media has the power to educate and to inform the public on issues of importance. The local television news continues to be the number one source of news for Americans; in fact, nearly 78% of Americans get their news from local television news (Hanelly, 2010). This presentation, not previously published or disseminated, will report the results of a study addressing the critical intersection of media and the sources of health information for those in poverty, specifically looking at the health issues that are covered on local television news. Utilizing a random sample drawn from a universe of over 14,000 local television news stories in 32 U.S. markets, in 1998 and 2002, this presentation compares the content and production dimensions of health stories. The presentation includes an analysis of the socio-economic characteristics of the Designated Market Areas and the health information presented. A special focus is placed on the health information presented on the local television news with regards to the top three causes of death for persons in poverty. The presentation represents a thorough examination of the data, using clear charts and graphs and suggests implication. The goal of this study is to inform both direct service public health practitioners as well as academics on the potential of the local television news as a medium for dissemination and health information.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the local media coverage of health issues available to persons living in poverty, with special focus on stories relating to the top three causes of death among those living in poverty. 2. Assess the potential impact of local news media coverage of health stories on viewers, particularly those living in poverty. 3. Formulate the opportunities for health education presented by news story selection. 4. Evaluate the public health education implications of study findings in improving health behavior of viewers. 5. Formulate further studies needed to examine links between news coverage of health issues and health behavior.

Keywords: Public Health Education, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have a doctoral degree in Public Policy, with a specialization in both media and health policy, in addition to degrees in public health and social work. I have seen first hand, as an executive in a national health care company and in my doctoral research, the problems of communicating health information. My academic experience has spanned health and social services, most recently in rural areas and areas of high poverty. I am passionate about the importance of capitalizing on any method of communicating relevant health information.
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.