State of Health Journalism in the U.S.
Author(s)/Editor(s): Schwitzer G, Associate Prof., University of Minnesota, School of Journalim and Mass Communication
Publisher/Organizer: Kaiser Family Foundation
Publication date: March 2009
Number of pages: 28
"This report provides a snapshot of the current state of health journalism in the U.S. today. It is based on a literature review of more than 100 published pieces of research on health journalism; on a survey of members of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), conducted by the Foundation and AHCJ; and on informal one-on-one interviews conducted by the author of this report with more than 50 journalists who work (or worked) for newspapers, radio and TV stations, magazines, and Web sites in small and large markets.
In assessing the state of health journalism in America today, one of the key questions is simply whether the news hole for health (i.e., the amount of space or time devoted to the topic at print, broadcast or online outlets) is shrinking, growing or remaining stable.
A study of news from 2007 and the first half of 2008, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, found that 3.6% of the news hole was devoted to health across all news platforms studied.
Health ranked 8th among news topics, following election-related news, U.S. foreign relations, international news, crime, government agencies, the economy, and disasters and accidents. The amount of news hole devoted to health ranged from a low of 1.4% on cable news outlets to a high of 8.3% on the evening newscasts on the major broadcast television networks. In the online news sites in the study, health was the subject of 2.2% of the top stories over this same period. The study did not assess trends, so it doesn't indicate whether the news hole for health in these media is growing or shrinking."