The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Friday, March 26, 2004
Local TV news: health concerns
I don't consume the product, so I'm loathe to anatomise. But - well, they started it with the HHS video news release thing...
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a piece on a worrying study from Minnesota U J-prof Gary Schwitzer looking at health stories on four Twin Cities stations' local news shows which found that
The average length of the 840 stories was 45 seconds
Not only was time constrained - enough for a gee whiz, not enough for necessary caveats - but none of the stations had a specialist health journo:
There were 58 people putting their names on health care stories in just four months
Now - devil's advocate - perhaps it's no bad thing for these stories to come across as rip-and-reads from a bunch of bimbos, rather than earnest tweed-clad nerds with that little knowledge that is the proverbial dangerous thing. Who might be overfamiliar with Big Pharma, for instance. Or have undergraduate obsessions with particular subjects. Or just be too damned confident for their own good.
For example, the BBC's domestic broadcasting is full of generous slots for health, with specialist health correspondents and doctors as regular broadcasters. The mumbo-jumbo which triggered the MMR vaccine fiasco - which has gripped the British public imagination much to the disadvantage of public health - was encouraged, rather than stamped on, by the serious media, including the BBC.
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