Reporting U.S. health in newspapers: a theoretically driven content ananlysis of health news articles
Newspapers continue to be desired source health information among serious readers, despite the competition of other media channels such as the internet. Although much research has been conducted to understand how health news is portrayed on television, few researchers have undertaken a broad analysis of health news in newspapers. In order to explore the state of health news reporting in U.S. newspapers, four theories were utilized: agenda-setting theory, framing theory, the elaboration likelihood model, and the health belief model. Using five major U.S. newspapers, 495 articles were collected from two weeks in 2007. The findings concluded that most articles discussed public policy, and specific diseases were reported much less. The tone used in most articles was neutral or mixed, and most articles provided evidence of susceptibility and severity. Most diseases or risk factors were reported accurately compared to the actual rate of incidence, but certain issues such as HIV/AIDS and obesity were underrepresented. Practical implications for public health professionals were discussed.