There's also useful commentary by the BBC staffer Roger Harrabin in "Risky Business" British Journalism Review (15/1), March 15, 2004, p28-33.
(For those without library access or personal subscriptions, the article may be purchased at Sage Publications.)
The backgrounder includes the basics about the flu as well as a good series of links to other resources options, including the American Veterinary Medical Association.
"Scenes of officials sitting at a table and talking in vague terms are precisely what works on TV to generate fear.... For television to be used to calm fears and present an image of a situation under control, the clichés of medical shows must be harnessed -- an empathetic authority figure who is in charge of the SARS crisis should have been put front and centre on TV to speak in terms that mean something to everybody. Instead, for weeks, a gaggle of people with vague titles talked about 'probable and suspected cases' and merely made the world scared of SARS in general and Toronto in particular." ("SARS coverage fuels fear instead of calming it, " The Globe & Mail, April 28, 2003.)
Words worth remembering as swine-flu fever builds.
(Frankish is an academic at the University of B.C. who chairs the Impact on Communities Coalition, is a senior scholar at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and professor & director at the Centre for Population Health Promotion Research, College for Interdisciplinary Studies, and Department of Healthcare & Epidemiology.)
New breakthroughs, radical treatment options, the costs and benefits of a new piece of technology: all of these events fall on the desks of daily news reporters in all markets and regardless of their beat or specialization. With that in mind, the American Medical Writers Association journal published guidelines in 1999 to help journalists who don’t have a background in science to better navigate a health science story.
Guyatt, G. et al. (1999) A journalist’s guide to writing health stories. AMWA Journal. 14(1):32-42.
"Spreading the News: Social Determinants of Health Reportage in Canadian Daily NewspapersCanadian Journal of Communication," Vol. 32, No. 3 (2007)
As part of a research program called CHAMP (Canadian Health and Media Project) devoted to examining health literacy in Canadian daily newspapers, and operating from a theoretical framework that posits journalism as a practice of representation, this article is based on a series of formal interviews with English-language and French-language health reporters. The interviews sought answers to three central questions about health reportage: how do journalists demarcate such a vast topic as health? where do they find their stories? and to what extent are they familiar with research into the social determinants of health? It concludes that in spite of their dependence upon published scholarly research as a source of news stories, Canadian health reporters overemphasize the roles of the health care system and personal health habits in the production of Canadians’ health, and they underemphasize the role of social determinants.
Mike Gasher, Concordia University
Michael V. Hayes, Simon Fraser University
Ian Ross, Ministry of Education, Government of Ontario
Robert A. Hackett, Simon Fraser University
Donald Gutstein, Simon Fraser University
James R. Dunn, University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital
Full text available in Proquest (CBCA), Ebsco, and by subscription at CJC-online.
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