Old news, recurring theme: Caribbean Media Overlook Health Stories

This is an almost five-year-old story, but I felt compelled to share it since this directly correlates with one of the reasons I began this blog. Haven ranted here and written here about my frustrations with media organizations in the region, I am excited (well, in one sense yes and in another so sad) to see published data on just how much health stories are not being covered. The report, from PAHO and CARIMAC analyzed print and electronic press in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and found that

“only 16 percent of stories had a health angle, although an additional 19 percent had the potential for a health focus. The study also found that stories covering HIV/AIDS issues more often than not utilized overtly negative terminology.”

Since this was to be a pilot study (found here), I am hoping to get additional published data on the original study as well as follow-up investigations from other countries. What were the results? Are there any similarities and/or differences in the coverage of health news across these islands? Which stories were covered most? Through what lens? Who was most likely to be interviewed? Whose voice is present? Whose voice is missing?

Apart from the implications of these studies for media organizations, I am also concerned about the implications for the health of the people served by such news organizations.Various studies show that populations gleam a great deal of health information from reading/listening or viewing media and entertainment programs, including from reading news reports. By excluding health information from the agenda, or by including it but only through limited lens, new organizations are failing at proving their audience with vital public health information.

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