Tag Archives: television

Send us examples of explaining complexities of health reform on TV

I know firsthand how hard it is to explain something like an Accountable Care Organization in a 2,500-word magazine piece. I can’t begin to think how difficult it would be in a 3-minute local television news segment.


Joanne Kenen

My posts on this blog have usually highlighted print (or online equivalent) or public radio pieces. But I’d also like to highlight some good local television reporting on health reform – or address some of the obstacles (and solutions) that TV reporters face in exploring health reform.

So if you have done good work or seen good work – or if you have any ideas or thoughts worth sharing with AHCJ colleagues, email me at joanne@healthjournalism.org or find me on Twitter (@JoanneKenen) and maybe I can use it in a future post.

Kenen is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. She is writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the complex implementation of health reform.

TV producer makes case for longer embargoes

Bob Ray, a medical producer at WMAQ-Chicago, makes the argument that television journalists need more advanced notice on embargoed stories.

Ray, who shared his view in a guest blog posting for Newswise in June, says that cutbacks in television news mean that, at his station, they can only shoot video interviews once or twice a week.

It would be helpful if we had at least one week’s warning for the release dates of studies and reports. That way, we could interview the study authors, if practicable, or interview one of our local Chicago experts about the study, and then contact the study author by phone to answer any remaining questions.

Ray points out that also gives WMAQ a chance to send its video to the NBC syndication service, possibly giving Newswise clients more exposure. Newswise distributes news releases to journalists.

Television reporters: Do you agree or disagree with Ray’s suggestion? Are you finding it difficult to cover embargoed stories because you don’t have enough lead time?

Research: Local television encourages fatalistic view of cancer

Writing for Miller-McCune magazine, Tom Jacobs puts together the results of two studies that conclude local television teaches viewers over-the-top cancer fatalism with their “Pretty much everything causes cancer, and there’s nothing you can do about it!” approach.

Jacobs found that “This belief, which can lead to health-threatening behaviors, seems to infect both well-educated and less-educated viewers.” Furthermore, researchers have found that local news viewing correlates with an increase in cancer fatalism a year down the road.

These findings applied specifically to local TV, and the same effect was not seen with national broadcasts or, researchers observed, with newspapers.

“Local TV news stories were more likely than newspaper stories to focus on and discuss causes of cancer, more likely to discuss scientific research findings, and less likely to include information that would allow viewers to follow up by seeking out additional resources, guidance or advice regarding the coverage they watched,” they write.

The increased fatalism brought on by the local TV approach is serious business, because it can influence real-world behavior.

… when it comes to cancer, beliefs matter. A 2007 study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reported that “Americans who hold fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention may be at greater risk of cancer because they are less likely to engage in various prevention behaviors,” including getting screened for cancer, eating fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly.

The researchers concluded that “Researchers and public health officials might consider conducting educational or training sessions with local TV journalists.” Covering Health thinks tapping into AHCJ’s resources and training aimed at journalists would certainly help!

Network promises ESPN-style surgery coverage

MDiTV, a new online network with several AHCJ members on its roster, has been in the works for a while and officially launched on April 28.

MDiTV founder and CEO Robert Lazzara, shown here in an introductory video, is a cardiac surgeon.

It aims to provide high production value, TV-style medical news segments each day, as well as more in-depth offerings. In addition to its video-heavy main site, MDiTV also has a regularly updated blog. AHCJ board member Andrew Holtz is the site’s senior editor and chief anchor, and AHCJ members Michael Ingram, Tim Park and Amira Dughri are also part of the effort.

Ben Comer of Medical Marketing & Media profiled the new organization.

The network will also present long-format programming, such as the Charlie Rose-inspired “Second Opinion” program, hosted by MDiTV founder and CEO Robert Lazzara, a cardiac surgeon. “Natural Forces,” a weekly health program hosted by Kelly Godell, will cover nutrition, food and healthy eating.

MDiTV will also add slightly less traditional programming, including events which sound like they’ve been inspired by a mix of CSPAN and ESPN.

MDiTV also hopes to premiere live surgeries through partnerships with “founding member hospitals,” and will broadcast medical meetings live, according to Lazzara. Surgeries and medical meetings will be presented in a way similar to how ESPN presents a sporting event, said Lazzara.

Lazzara told Comer the site would add advertising (likely broadcast-style commercials) within 60 days, but that they were currently focused on creating original content. Lazzara said he plans to market the station to patients and providers using a combination of traditional and social media.

NewsPro issue on AHCJ, health journalism (#ahcj2010)

NewsPro has once again turned the spotlight toward health journalism and AHCJ, just in time for Health Journalism 2010 in Chicago. Find a PDF of the full issue here, or go to the issue’s online index.

In addition to profiles of AHCJ award winners, highlights include:


Read our post on last year’s issue here.