Media vs. reality
Who sets the public agenda on health?
This study advances agenda-setting theory by applying it to understand the media influence on the public’s perception of health issues. The longitudinal analysis compared news indices, public opinion polls, and reality indicators in the United States from 2001 to 2010. The results show that news media, especially print media, did have some agenda-setting effects on the public’s health priorities. However, the coverage had little to do with reality and, ironically, the media representation of certain health issues showed an opposite trend to that of the reality indicators. These findings call into question the responsibility of journalists in providing a complete and proportional representation of health concerns.
Keywords: agenda setting, health communication, health journalism
Published online: 29 March 2018
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