Media Advocacy

Lori Dorfman and Priscilla Gonzalez

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online February 2011 | | DOI:
Media Advocacy

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The history of public health is clear: social conditions and the physical environment are important determinants of health. To improve social conditions and physical environments in lasting and meaningful ways, public health practitioners must be involved in policy development and policy advocacy, since policy defines the structures and sets the rules for society. News portrayals of health issues are significant for how they influence policymakers and the public regarding who has responsibility for preventing and treating health problems. Issues are not considered by the public and policymakers unless they are visible, and they are not visible unless the news or other media have brought them to light. Media advocacy is an approach to health communications that helps people understand the importance and reach of news coverage, the need to participate actively in shaping such coverage, and the methods to do so effectively. While media advocates do reach beyond news media to advertising and entertainment as well as social media, news remains a priority because of its influence on policy. Media advocacy differs significantly from traditional mass communications approaches because it focuses on changing conditions and environments rather than changing personal health behavior. Media advocacy emphasizes institutional accountability, which typically receives less attention from the news than individually oriented solutions. The practice was developed by tobacco and alcohol control advocates who applied political campaign tactics in the context of scientific approaches to prevention. Public health practitioners continue to use media advocacy in tobacco and alcohol control and have expanded its application to policy advocacy on childhood lead poisoning, violence and injury control, early care and education, nutrition, physical activity, health inequities, and affordable housing, among other issues.

Article.  5935 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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