The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis. Annual Review of Political. importantly, the relationship between media and public opinion has come to be seen .. Is it an advertisement or a friend's advice which prompts an individual to . media and issue salience in the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy. media, studying the nature and degree of media influence on public opinion is anonymousreviewers for providing valuable advice along the way.
Therefore, across the majority of the media the bankers, private enterprise and high profits were celebrated. The economy appeared to be booming, house prices rose and the New Labour government had increased tax revenues to spend on health and education.
The result of these factors is that when the crash occurred, those who appeared in the mainstream media to discuss solutions tended to be those who are most supportive of — or drawn from — the system which created the problems. The British mainstream press did reflect the anger felt by its readers in response to the crash inmany of whom had pensions and savings which were potentially threatened. The Daily Mail roared from its front page: This exclusion of debate about radical alternatives to cuts, such as taxing the bankers or other wealthy groups, is entirely irrespective of the potential popularity of these policies.
This would reduce the deficit because government spending includes interest paid on the debt and because the proposal would avoid the cuts. Without these, there would be less unemployment and therefore more tax revenue. Such programmes often seek out what they see as extreme debate. In essence, the message was that the bankers were indeed at fault but there is no alternative. As The Sun explains in this editorial: Many will ask if it is right that tax payers are forced to subsidise irresponsible borrowers and greedy banks.
But what was the alternative? Neither America nor Britain could stand by and watch their economies disintegrate. The Sun, 20th September The argument is then taken further by David Cameron who, as Prime Minister, argued that we must stop attacking the bankers.
Public opinion - The mass media | hopedir.info
In the Daily Telegraph he was reported as saying: The Daily Telegraph, 15th January In the face of such structures of power, the media acts more as a release for frustration and discontent rather than a forum to explore potential alternatives. No transformation of the economy or the banking system is considered viable and the solution became simply to cut public spending — a key priority of the UK coalition government elected in The central justification for this was that welfare spending was too high.
The banking crash and the intrinsic problems of the economic systems were replaced in the public agenda with other issues allegedly requiring urgent solutions — and groups other than the bankers being the target of political action Briant et al.
A key aspect of our method has also been to study media content and processes of audience reception simultaneously, in order to understand the way in which audiences negotiate their beliefs and attitudes in response to media messages. These messages are not received uniformly by all audiences, and the level of influence that they have varies greatly. We have been interested in exploring the key factors in the capacity of audiences to accept or reject messages, and the consequences of this for the shaping of public understanding.
In the Glasgow University Media Group undertook a study of UK news coverage and attitudes and beliefs about disability and disabled people Briant et al. This involved, firstly, a content analysis across comparable periods in anddesigned to track changes in style, content or volume across media coverage of policy change relating to disability benefits and, in particular, to highlight media responses to the recent cuts made by the UK coalition government.
This work was complemented by an audience reception study to assess the way in which reporting was being negotiated by members of the public in terms of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes, and further to explore the key trends highlighted in the content study. The analysis showed that, across the sample periods, there had not only been a significant increase in the reporting of disability in the print media, but this increase had been accompanied by a shift in the way that disability was being reported.
The subject had become more politicised and there had been a reduction in the proportion of articles which described disabled people in sympathetic terms, whilst those focusing on disability benefit and fraud had grown. They were also very clear on what the intended message was — but there were disagreements over whether it was believed.
The official figure is closer to 0. However, as these comments suggest, the assumption of its widespread nature was not always related to a certainty about those actually claiming fraudulently, but a perception supported by the belief that the system is very easily manipulated: Or even bad backs. And if you want to defraud then Further, there was a great deal of resentment directed at the large numbers of people believed to be fraudulently claiming benefit: In this sense there was evidence that the media coverage, combined with the processes of logic that the system was easy to defraud and therefore it was likely that people would do itand claims of knowledge about specific cases resulted in the development of beliefs about disability and fraud.
On the other hand, disabled people themselves expressed significant anger at some of the press reporting and at the accusations linking disabled people with scrounging and fraudulent claims. For some of these, the issue of disabled people not receiving the level of support they required was a bigger issue than fraud. In these cases, disabled people used their direct experience to reject the news message.
Direct experience was therefore a substantial factor in the negotiation of the media message. The power of the media message tended to be heightened in those cases in which there was no direct experience or other knowledge of an issue, and conversely to decrease when people had direct experience. In the disability study the large majority of those we spoke to had some experience of disability either through a close family member or close friends, many of whom had tried to get benefits and had failed.
One participant, for example, talked about how hard it had been for her mother to get any benefits and another described the difficulties her partner had faced in trying to get access to the services he required. But this did not lead to a simple rejection of the of the media message — the power of the media message could remain and in fact, we found that audience members often held the two potentially competing beliefs at the one time — recognising the widespread and genuine hardships of disability but also believing that huge numbers were not deserving of benefits.
In a similar way, when we studied TV and press reporting of mental illness, we found that it focussed on violent incidents. People who worked in the area of mental health and who had professional experience tended to discount this media view and highlight that only a tiny minority of those with mental health issues were potentially violent. Yet there were also examples in which the fear generated by media coverage overwhelmed direct experience.
In the following case a young woman described how she had worked alongside elderly people in a hospital. There people were in no way dangerous or violent yet she was afraid of them because of what she had seen on television: Not all of them were old, some of them were younger.
Across these studies, thus, we found that a number of factors including direct experience, knowledge from other sources, logic and the generation of fear or anger contributed to the degree to which audiences accepted or rejected the media message. A consistent theme is that where there is a lack of alternatives presented, the message is much less likely to be rejected.
Overall, the mainstream media in the UK have given very little space to views beyond those offered by the main political parties. In relation to the financial crisis, this has reduced the range of responses to a choice between having cuts now, as offered by the current coalition government, or having them later, as offered by the Labour party.
Whilst social changes at the level of the current transformation of the welfare system do not require public support, they are certainly facilitated by it, and just as crucially by the elimination of active opposition.
This is primarily because governments constantly strive for electoral support. While the interplay of public opinion, policy implementation, and social change is complex, the media can often play a legitimising role. In the next section, which looks at audience reception of media accounts of climate change, we introduce a further element to our analysis of media and social change: Media Accounts and Changing Public Attitudes and Behaviours [ TOP ] In the Glasgow University Media Group conducted a major research project examining the impact of media coverage of climate change on audience understanding and engagement with climate change.
The climate policy objectives of the current coalition government in the UK revolve around de-carbonisation — a process which is enshrined in law through the Climate Change Act. But climate change is distinctive from other policy issues, such as, for example, the economic policies or welfare cuts already discussed, in that their success or failure lies to a significant degree with public participation, which goes way beyond attitudinal support of the policies.
Patterns in attitudes and belief need to be accompanied by the adoption of new behavioural patterns — and it is in these that social change will ultimately take place. There are a range of factors which have contributed to the shape of current reporting of climate change, which has been routinely criticised for its lack of clarity on the basic scientific arguments.
There is evidence that there are powerful and well-resourced bodies operating to systematically undermine accurate media reporting in this area as part of the wider spread of climate scepticism. In Februaryit was revealed by The Guardian that an anti-renewables media campaign was funded by secretive trusts linked to wealthy US and UK business people Goldenberg, The trusts have financed organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action.
They have invested millions of dollars over the past decade in contrarian think tanks and activists to spread scepticism, and increasingly a part of this is the anti-renewables rhetoric. As a result news reporting is increasingly shaped by this construction of polarisation and conflict, with the media, rather than the scientists, or even the politicians, setting the terms of the debate, meaning that the key scientific arguments upon which policy is based are constantly undermined.
In addition to the polarised nature of coverage, since an equal if not greater problem is that the level of global and national media coverage has suffered a sharp decline Fischer,reflecting a re-ordering of the political priorities since the economic crash.
This in turn affects media priorities, since politicians have a key role in setting agendas and highlighting issues for discussion. In previous work, we have shown the conditions under which new information is produced. The link between smoking and cancer has also clearly produced substantial behavioural change.
But there are also examples in which new information does not produce such changes.
The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change
Our aim was to establish why new messages vary in their effects, and to identify the possible triggers for potential behavioural change. With this aim we developed methods which involved immersing our participants in a new information environment which we constructed. We conducted a series of focus groups across the UK, recruited on normal socio-demographic criteria.
All of the materials represented in differing forms and from differing perspectives three future scenarios which were developed through detailed research and consultation with experts in the related scientific field.
The first scenario documented a mass flood in Bangladesh that leads to loss of land and the forced migration of millions of the population.
Migrants initially journeyed to India but were turned away by border control agents and are eventually picked up in the Bay of Bengal by ferries chartered by the international community.
Many disperse to areas in Europe and it is reported thatare due to port in the UK city of Southampton where protestors are demonstrating against their arrival. The second scenario focused on the local effects of climate change. The flood forces thousands from their homes and businesses and the report included predictions about the long-term implications for the Scottish economy.
We set out initially to investigate the way in which audiences negotiate the coverage — a key element of this was the way in which they assess the credibility of sources and attribute trust.
However, whilst the scientists themselves were trusted, the science itself was seen to be largely theoretical rather than evidence-based and therefore difficult to prove, as this exchange shows: So did you have any doubt about the science of it then? If you read National Geographic, was it possible to predict these things at all?
You read into it what you want. So you think the scientific predictions are a bit dodgy? Well, they do contradict each other. It just swaps about. High-income group, Crowborough There was a sense that the evidence could be easily manipulated to present different arguments, and promote different agendas. One of the groups thought to be engaged in presenting agenda-led information were the politicians — this related to not only the fact that politicians were one of the main groups speaking on the issue much more than the scientists themselves but that public trust in them was very low.
This left audiences with no clear idea of who to believe on this subject, and combined with a strong feeling of general powerlessness about this as well as other issues in public life. In spite of general sympathy towards the issue and a recognition of its importance, the overall picture of current audience reception was therefore one of confusion, cynicism and distrust about public communications.
On the subject of changing individual behaviours, beyond the adoption of recycling, most people had not made conscious changes due to their concerns about climate change. Again this was in spite of a strong awareness of the importance of doing so. Whilst cost and convenience were cited as reasons for not making changes, the sense of powerlessness, that individuals cannot make a difference and that, at the level of policy, those in charge could not be trusted to make decisions for the greater good, also played a role in this disengagement.
To compound this the current dip in media attention to the subject was also found to be having an impact — overwhelmingly people felt it was less a pressing subject than it had been in the past, and, for most, the economic recovery was a greater priority, with ethical concerns characterised as a luxury for more prosperous times. Having established their views and levels of engagement to climate change, we then introduced the new information in the form of our constructed television reports and newspaper articles.
The Bangladesh refugee story had a particularly strong impact. The main reason for the greater concern and urgency was that this scenario tapped into existing worries about issues such as immigration, and the scarcity of resources such as employment and housing.
The reports highlighted to participants the potential personal consequences of climate change and substantially enhanced concern. Once they saw that the science is solidly based, and the potential consequences are real and severe, they saw more clearly that action has to be taken. The aims of taking action — as well as the risks of not doing so — became clear. To assess the extent of attitudinal change we asked participants to state how important climate change was to them on a scale of 1 to 10 both before the new information and after the new information was introduced.
This is a substantial increase, and provides evidence of genuine attitudinal change in response to the scenarios. It reflects the potential for new information to impact on attitudes in the short-term. However, when we asked about the impact of this increased concern upon their position on ethical behaviours, we found a marked lack of commitment to behavioural change.
Again, most people saw the importance of behavioural change, but the original reasons for disengagement were widely repeated: The longitudinal findings — which were based on follow-up interviews with half the original sample six months later — confirmed that the majority had not made changes to their behaviour. The chapter also addresses how advertising media, entertainment media, and the Internet provide health-related information that can reinforce or alter norms and attitudes that influence individual behavioral and societal changes.
The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the theories that help us understand the impact of the media on behavioral change and on evaluation and research issues, including the difficulties in predicting the outcomes of media campaigns.
The committee recommends a number of steps that can be taken to further enhance the role of the media in improving the population's health. Generally, Americans look to the news media for coverage of events and to help us understand the world around us.
Although the news media does not specifically tell us what to think, it plays an important role in identifying what issues we should think about McCombs and Shaw, The more coverage a topic receives in the news, the more likely it is to be a concern of the public. Conversely, issues not mentioned by the media are likely to be ignored or to receive little attention. The publication provided five case histories of previously healthy, young ages 29 to 36 homosexual men from the Los Angeles area who developed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia PCPan affliction usually seen in severely immunodepressed patients, and a myriad of other opportunistic infections.
Physicians were alerted about Kaposi's sarcoma, PCP, and other opportunistic infections associated with immunosuppression in homosexual men. During this time, news media coverage of the illnesses that appeared to be affecting homosexual men was limited. According to an analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundationit was only in August that the New York Times brought readers up to date on an emerging and puzzling health crisis in the homosexual community.
Bya Newsweek poll found that 9 in 10 Americans over 18 years of age had heard about AIDS but were generally uninformed or misinformed. News media coverage during the mid- to late s may have contributed to improved public awareness and knowledge of AIDS. ByGallup surveys indicated that nearly all adults were aware that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be transmitted by shared needles 98 percenthomosexual intercourse 96 percentand heterosexual intercourse 95 percent Kaiser Family Foundation, Table 7—1 gives examples of the media coverage of AIDS from to The media also play an important role in gaining the attention of specific opinion leaders, including politicians, governmental regulators, community leaders, and corporate executives, among others.
Between andseveral members of the U. Congress placed AIDS on the political agenda by holding hearings on the growing numbers of people afflicted by it and research into its causes and prevention. Celebrity activists and spokespersons covered by the media also increased the visibility of AIDS on the political agenda.
During that year the Congress also passed legislation that took into account the larger societal implications of the epidemic and that went beyond funding for AIDS prevention, research, and treatment efforts.
Inas public recognition of the burgeoning AIDS epidemic increased, the growing need for information was addressed by a booklet sent to all million U. A Message from the Surgeon General was one of the largest educational public health mailings in U. Political attention to AIDS continued to grow from the late s through This landmark legislation authorized funds in emergency relief to cities devastated by the AIDS epidemic P.
As noted earlier, a high level of media coverage about a topic elicits public attention and concern. Shuchman provides several examples of journalism as a catalyst of health care system change. A Los Angeles Times series on the U. Food and Drug Administration's system of drug approval in strengthened the claims of those advocating tighter controls at the agency Willman, Extensive coverage by the Washington Post and others of the death of a young patient in a university-based gene therapy experiment resulted in stronger federal protections for patients enrolled in clinical trials Nelson, A Boston Globe series on the hazards of placebo-control trials in psychiatry was one of several journalistic investigations that resulted in changes in the way psychiatric patients are enrolled in research protocols Whitaker and Kong, quoted in Shuchman, News attention to specific issues, however, may also distort public perceptions and change behavior in adverse ways.
Gilliam and colleagues found that the public's concern regarding crime increased, despite little actual change in the frequency of criminal activity and national survey statistics indicating a declining population-adjusted rate of crime over the previous two decades. The authors note that although Americans do not experience crime directly, they receive large doses of crime coverage from the media.
In response to public concerns, policy makers endorse strategies to strengthen law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Dorfman and Thorson also note that one by-product of media reporting on crime and violence is that readers receive a distorted picture of the world and that people react to reading and hearing news about crime and violence by fearing their world. Dorfman and colleagues have developed techniques to enable journalists to report on highly unusual crimes without misrepresenting the patterns of violence in their communities and creating misguided fears.
Such techniques for reporting on violence integrate a public health perspective and offer readers information to understand the determinants of violence and to develop strategies for reducing violence in the community Stevens, The news media can also function as a catalyst for action at the local or community level.
Over a period of 6 months inLaura Saari, a writer for the Orange County Register, brought to light the sharp social and economic contrast that exists in one of California's more affluent counties, where one in five children lives in poverty.
The article on motel children uses the voices of children to poignantly communicate the impact of poverty on their lives see Box 7—1. Five children sit on the lip of the Dumpster and spear cans to get the money for a McDonald's. A broken fan, onion more The media coverage also activated a response by the local government. The city of Anaheim, where the motels are located, also moved services into the motels so that families would have easier access to parenting classes, job training, and food programs.
Many public health issues are not considered newsworthy. In contrast to the coverage of a frightening infectious disease epidemic such as AIDS or, more recently, the anthrax attacks, the story on motel children illustrates the everyday work of public health that involves struggles with endemic conditions and risk factors that are not considered news.
The journalist was able to capture interest in an endemic situation by presenting the story in a novel way, and subsequent advocacy helped to keep the story and the public interest alive. It is important to understand these tensions if the news media is to be involved in the public health system. The results of a survey of scientists and journalists are particularly helpful in understanding the attitudes of each toward the other and their views on transmitting and translating scientific information through the media to the public.
Hartz and Chappell found that scientists complained that reporters do not understand many of the basics of their methods, including the proper interpretation of statistics, probabilities, and risk. Journalists viewed scientists as being too immersed in esoteric jargon and unable to explain their work simply and cogently, whereas scientists said the news media oversimplify complex issues. These findings allude to many of the tensions between the scientific community including the public health community and the journalism community that arise because of differences in defining what is newsworthy, differences in styles of communication Nelkin,; Hartz and Chappell,and differences in perceptions about the role of the media Nelkin, In identifying newsworthy topics, journalists often seek out stories that are potential attention grabbers.
Scientists and public health professionals believe that journalists, in writing attention-grabbing stories, often violate the traditional norms that guide scientific communication.
Nelkinnotes that media constraints of time, brevity, and simplicity, for example, impede the careful documentation, nuanced positions, and caveats that scientists believe are necessary to discuss and present their work. Journalists, on the other hand, often see the use of caveats or qualifications as information that can be dismissed to improve the readability of a story.
Furthermore, journalistic efforts to enhance audience interest may violate other traditional scientific norms. For example, to create a human interest angle, journalists may look for personal stories and individual cases, although this may distort research findings that have meaning only in a broader statistical context.
Scientific journals may also contribute to the distortion of research findings. Scientific journals often prepare press releases for the news media to assist them in getting the story right. These attempts to translate research into news can be misleading. Woloshin and Schwartz reviewed the content of journal press releases and interviewed press officers at nine prominent medical journals.
The study found that press releases do not routinely highlight study limitations or the role of industry funding. Formats for presenting data were also found to exaggerate the perceived importance of findings. Fueling these tensions is the fact that scientists, health care professionals, and policy experts rarely receive training in public communication, and reporters are not well trained in science, medicine, and statistics. Both groups are generally untrained in risk communication.
A recent study Voss, highlights reporters' self-perceptions about their own ability to report health news. The study surveyed reporters and newspapers in five Midwestern states. In response to questions about reporting ability, More than three-quarters of respondents 83 percent reported that they had no training to cover health topics.
To help ease these tensions and to improve the quality of the information delivered to the public, scientists and public health officials as well as journalists and editors should seek opportunities for training. It seems to me that it is more important than ever that we as journalists really know how to do our jobs right, because so many critical policy decisions are being made that affect everyone. The ability to properly report medical studies and survey research and the ability to interpret statistics are all a part of doing the job right.
We owe it to our audiences. With funding from the John S. The fellowship provides classroom instruction in epidemiology and biostatistics, public health intervention, public health structure, and health reporting. Fellows are also provided with opportunities to observe investigations of disease outbreaks and participate in research and field practice http: The Kaiser Family Foundation b sponsors three fellowship programs for journalists.
The Kaiser Media Fellowships in Health provide print or broadcast journalists and editors interested in health issues with an annual stipend that allows them to pursue individual projects on a wide range of health and social policy issues. The Kaiser Media Internships in Urban Health provide minority journalists interested in urban public health reporting with practical experiences in reporting on the health beat.
The Kaiser Media Mini-Fellowships provide travel and research grants to journalists to research and report on health policy and public health issues. Both the Kaiser Family Foundation and the CDC-Knight fellowships, as well as others, 1 facilitate a healthy dialogue between health officials and reporters and contribute to the development of a well-trained cadre of health journalists.
Journalist associations also have begun to take a lead in providing opportunities for journalists to improve the quality of information they provide to the public. The Association of Health Care Journalists AHCJfor example, is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues.
Its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy, and visibility of health care reporting, writing, and editing. One of the ways the association works to enhance the understanding between journalists and health care experts is by offering workshops and training resources on current and emerging issues in health care and reporting skills.
The importance of effective communication among public health officials, the media, and the public is particularly critical during crises. During such times, the news media play an important role in amplifying or attenuating the public's perception of risk and serve as a key link in the risk communication process. The media played a key role in reporting the anthrax attacks following the terrorist attacks on September 11, The events emphasized the need to communicate scientific and medical information in a way that the public can understand and to provide clear information about the concepts of risk and how to apply them.
In NovemberDr. Kenneth Shine, president of the Institute of Medicine, advised Congress that communication to the public and to health professionals about the anthrax terrorist attack were found to be insufficient and needed improvement to deal more effectively with future situations that may compromise public health or national security.
This is analogous to the situation in local communities where there is a need for such an individual to communicate on behalf of the local health department. Several months before the anthrax outbreak, uninformed statements on local television in a community with two cases of meningococcal meningitis resulted in thousands of individuals taking antibiotics or seeking immunizations that were not indicated.
Local stores of antibiotics were depleted and many people were subjected to risk from unnecessary treatment.
In the case of the anthrax episodes, the media responded by interviewing countless number of individuals. In many cases, well-intentioned infectious disease specialists who knew a good deal about the literature on anthrax could provide accurate retrospective information, but when pressed about the current events, they were not privy to the information about the cases that had occurred. They were then forced to either acknowledge their limitations, which the responsible experts did, or in the case of others less responsible, to speculate based on news reports, rumors, and a variety of other kinds of incomplete or false information.
In the case of anthrax, less than 20 cases resulted in thousands of people taking antibiotics that were not indicated. Perhaps 20 percent of these individuals experienced some side effects from these drugs.
These antibiotics changed the bacteriological environment and may have rendered some organisms resistant to the antibiotics employed. In response to Department of Health and Human Services plans to reorganize communication, legislative, and public affairs offices, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers warned that tight control of information by top department managers may be efficient, but it can also increase the risk of communication bottlenecks that can deprive the public of timely and vital health information, and raises questions about how the public's access to objective information will be protected AHCJ, a.
Analyzing the communication response to the anthrax attacks may present potentially critical lessons, and a rigorous review of the handling of the incident by the media and public health officials is needed to improve communication strategies for the future.
The summary proceedings of a recent conference of media and public health representatives highlighted a number of lessons learned from coverage of public health crises Joseph, First, the primary goal of both the press and public health professionals is to serve the public, and the communication of accurate information is a crucial factor in this service. Second, a credible spokesperson or expert must be available to the press to help ensure that information is accurate.
This is especially critical during a crisis when there is pressure for both health and nonhealth reporters to cover an incident. Ideally, the spokesperson s should have an ongoing dialogue and relationship with reporters as well as editors. Third, public health professionals need to acknowledge the independence of the news media.
For the press, there is a fine line between cooperation and the risk of losing independence, or cooptation. Furthermore, the audience or public is not a single entity; it can be segmented into different groups with different experiences, social determinants, cultures, and languages.
The continuation of this dialogue is essential; there is much that media and public health professionals can learn from each other that will help both improve their service to the public. Understanding and appreciating the perspectives and needs of all parties will create a better climate for accurately informing the public.
The committee recommends that an ongoing dialogue be maintained between medical and public health officials and editors and journalists at the local level and their representative associations nationally. Furthermore, foundations and governmental health agencies should provide opportunities to develop and evaluate educational and training programs that provide journalists with experiences that will deepen their knowledge of public health subject matter and provide public health workers with a foundation in communication theory, messaging, and application.
Results from these activities would contribute knowledge on how best to structure training and other educational opportunities for health and media specialists so that they are better prepared to bring accurate health information to the public.
Large-scale health communication campaigns seeking to change behaviors were first seen in the United States in the eighteenth century in the form of efforts to educate the public about infectious diseases and the benefits of immunization. InReverend Cotton Mather used pamphlets and personal appeals to promote immunization during a smallpox epidemic in Boston Paisley, Another illustrative example of a public health campaign was associated with the newly found knowledge that the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacillus caused tuberculosis TB and that TB was communicable and could be prevented.
Hermann Biggs, issued an ordinance that prohibited spitting on sidewalks. The public and civil sectors helped to drive behavioral change at the individual level by placing notices in public areas warning that spitting on the floor spread disease. More recently, health communication campaigns have used a variety of ways to present health messages. This section discusses the use of specific media to promote health messages. It first addresses public service announcements PSAs and then discusses the role of emerging media channels—the entertainment media and the Internet—in conveying health messages.
The section concludes with an examination of social marketing and media advocacy, strategies that use media as part of a broader approach to changing individual behavior or promoting social change. Public Service Announcements Broadcasters can help create conditions for improved population health by choosing to donate time for PSAs that convey health-promoting messages.
PSAs became a possible conduit for disseminating health-related messages when the Federal Communications Commission FCC required that stations donate a certain amount of airtime to serve the public and the community in exchange for the use of public airways.
The requirement, however, does not specify the length of time or the time of day that broadcasters should make PSAs available.
Furthermore, new broadcasting venues such as cable networks have no statutory obligation to serve the public interest Kaiser Family Foundation, a. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a study to examine the amount of airtime that television broadcasters donate for PSAs.
This represents just under one-half of 1 percent 0. Much of this donated airtime 43 percent is made available between midnight and 6 a. The study also found that health issues are the top priority of PSAs at some networks: Sponsors buy an average of 9 seconds an hour of advertising time for paid PSAs per network.
Paid PSAs are not only longer on average, 9 seconds compared to 5 seconds for donated PSAsbut they are better placed.
Only 18 percent of paid PSAs are run between midnight and 6 a. Health issues are also a primary focus of paid PSAs—39 percent convey health messages. The growing use of paid PSAs has raised concerns about the degree to which networks are meeting their public service obligations. Paid PSAs are regarded by some as an indication that the traditional public service model— relying on donated airtime from broadcasters seeking to fulfill their public service obligations—is no longer working LaMay, Some paid PSA sponsors report that before turning to paying for PSAs, they encountered significant difficulties getting messages on the air, especially during prime time Berger, Struggles to get PSAs with health messages on the air can significantly challenge efforts to educate and persuade the public to adopt healthy practices or to avoid behaviors that pose a risk to health.
Reviews of the impacts of PSAs have found them to increase public recognition or awareness of a problem and in some cases to motivate action or change behavior.
Hu and colleaguesfor example, found that California's paid antismoking media campaign accounted for a 2 to 3 percent lower level of cigarette sales, or an estimated reduction of million packs of cigarettes during the 2-year study period.
Part of the success of this campaign was that the paid nature of the PSAs allowed greater freedom in their design, which was considered controversial and attracted news media attention Dorfman and Wallack, Antismoking media campaigns in Massachusetts and Florida also report significant reductions in smoking behavior.
Similarly, Zucker and colleagues report a 19 percent decline in smoking among Florida middle school students and an 8 percent decline among Florida high school students exposed to antismoking media campaigns. The outcomes noted above are well documented.
The media, both paid advertising and free media, are important vehicles for putting pressure on public agencies.
By running their own advertisements, program advocates can create a forum in which they are able to frame issues publicly in a way that reflects their viewpoint. This is a particularly powerful strategy if other forums, such as legislatures or oversight bodies, have not been responsive. Such advertisements reach decision makers, the public, and reporters, and call attention to the fact that there are problems with the program. Balbach and Glantz, A question often debated when discussing PSAs is: Why should broadcasters be motivated to donate public service announcements, especially if there are monetary implications for them?
There are at least three responses to the question; first, the FCC, through its licensing agreements, imposes on broadcasters a commitment to serve the public interest.
Second, when broadcasters do so, it creates good will among their audiences, and as evidenced earlier, studies demonstrate that PSAs contribute to improving the health of the public who consume the broadcasters' media. Third, when broadcasters comply freely, calls for tighter and more specific regulatory actions to ensure broadcasters' commitment to the public interest are less likely to be made.
As noted earlier, not all broadcasters are averse to donating time for PSAs, and some have made significant contributions of time and effort to promote the health of the public.
The campaign capitalizes on Viacom's global brand power and strong audience relationships to reach the public at large and those most affected by the disease. The campaign includes domestic and international public messaging, television and radio programming, and outdoor, print, and online content and employee education. This partnership demonstrates strong corporate responsibility and the role that the public health sector can play to engage media gatekeepers in the task of promoting the public's health.
In light of the important opportunity that PSAs provide as a vehicle for the dissemination of messages to educate and persuade the public to adopt healthy practices or avoid behaviors that pose a risk to health and of the limited amount of time donated to PSAs throughout the broadcasting schedule, the committee recommends that television networks, television stations, and cable providers increase the amount of time they donate to PSAs as a partial fulfillment of the public service requirement in their FCC licensing agreements.
In doing so, the public would benefit from more opportunities to obtain health messages, the media would be seen as demonstrating greater corporate and civic responsibility, and the need for tighter regulation to ensure that licensing agreement requirements are being met would be diminished.
This was, of course, the least valuable time that the networks had, and because the networks competed with one another, using late night television for nonpaid advertisements was sensible.
A critical opportunity, however, was missed as corporations advertised their products, and the public interest was not served. The FCC should review the regulations governing broadcast and broadband media with an eye toward finding ways in which media institutions can serve the public's interest in accurate health information without being unfairly burdened in the process.
Better placement of PSAs would benefit the public as well as the media, which will be seen as fully contributing to the public good. The committee recommends that the FCC review its regulations for PSA broadcasting on television and radio to ensure a more balanced broadcasting schedule that will reach a greater proportion of the viewing and listening audiences.
This will benefit the public as well as the media's image as a vital contributor to the public good. Policy makers may ask if PSAs are more effective in reducing cigarette consumption than other measures, such as tobacco taxation.
Hu and colleagues examined the relative effects of taxation versus an antismoking media campaign in California, as noted earlier. The study results indicate that both taxation and antismoking media campaigns are effective means of reducing cigarette consumption.
The authors note, however, that the strength of the effects is related to the magnitude of the taxes and the amount of resources expended on the media campaign. Corporations spend billions of dollars on paid advertising to promote their products. Competition between state government spending on health promotion and prevention activities which may include advertising and corporate marketing activities for products that undermine health is also in tremendous imbalance.
The public is negatively influenced by corporate advertisers of unhealthy behaviors and products, with little counteradvertising that promotes positive health behaviors. To deal with such an imbalance in advertising, researchers have proposed that a federal tax be levied on tobacco advertising and promotion Bayer et al.
Supreme Court has not yet tested the constitutionality of a content-based tax on commercial speech. More discussion and research are needed to identify and develop support for strategies that can improve the balance between advertising that promotes health and advertising for products that harm the health of the public.
Television Television is one of society's most common and constant learning environments. Television entertainment programs and commercials, with potential positive and negative health messages embedded in them, reach tens of millions of viewers each day. Often, these messages reach viewers who may not otherwise expose themselves to such information and do not fully realize that these messages may influence their thoughts and actions Signorielli, However, concerted efforts to develop strong partnerships between the entertainment media and health communicators are increasingly contributing to more accurate and timely health information in entertainment programming.
American television producers have a history of working with health promotion experts to address public health issues.
A more concerted effort to partner with entertainment media to disseminate health messages was undertaken by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health Center for Health Communication. As part of the project, television writers agreed to insert drunk driving prevention messages and references to designated drivers into the scripts of top-rated television programs. The networks also aired frequent PSAs during prime time that encouraged the use of designated drivers www.
Evaluations of the campaign's impact documented a rapid, widespread acceptance and the strong popularity of the designated driver concept. Before the campaign, 62 percent of Gallup poll respondents said that they and their families used a designated driver all or most of the time. By mid, the percentage had risen to 72 percent, a statistically significant increase in the numbers of individuals using designated drivers. Surveys sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in and found that about three-quarters of those surveyed responded that people should not be allowed to drive if they have been drinking any alcohol at all.
These results indicate a wide acceptance of the social norm that the driver should not drink Winsten and DeJong,