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Health Commun. 2007;21(3):213-21.

Health content in local television news.

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School of Communication, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Local television news is an important source of health information for the public. Yet little is known about coverage of health issues on local television newscasts. This study examined 1,863 news stories that aired on 4 English-language channels and 1 Spanish channel in 7 U.S. markets during a composite week in 2000. About 10% of news stories focused on health topics. Specific illnesses/diseases and healthy living issues received the most frequent coverage. Health news stories generally were less than 1 min long. Most health news stories were neutral in tone. Few offered contrasting viewpoints or follow-up information. Many stories were likely to require a 10th grade education to be understood. Implications for health professionals, policy makers, and health communication researchers are discussed.

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