DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): A great deal of research has described the value of cancer information for cancer patients, their relatives and friends, and the general public. Understanding this, health professionals use a variety of interpersonal and mediated outlets to provide information about cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The mass media serve as an important and trusted source of information about health. Media outlets include news and entertainment programs, newspaper and magazine articles and stories, and the Internet. In order to maximize their outreach efforts, health professionals and health information providers need to know how the mass media cover cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
The objective of this proposal is to carefully document the extent and nature of coverage about cancer in local newscasts. The project represents the first step in providing information about mass media coverage of cancer, with coverage of other news media and entertainment outlets to follow in subsequent studies, and is important because of the information it will provide to health professionals. At a minimum, it will highlight the extent to which health professionals have succeeded in generating and shaping local news coverage of cancer in the news markets selected.
The proposed research includes developing a set of category systems that will permit the assessment of cancer content in a much more systematic and detailed fashion than has been done in the past. The proposal focuses on newscasts in three cities with the full expectation that the category systems developed would be used following this study for local newscasts in additional cities, national/network newscasts, information and entertainment programs, and relevant content in the print media as well as on the Internet.
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