From beating the odds to changing the odds: Recommendations for journalists covering early childhood

Early childhood is a critical developmental period because what happens during this time affects health outcomes into and throughout adulthood. How, then, can journalists incorporate complex findings from multiple bodies of science into their reporting to tell a more complete story about early childhood? In this report, we offer recommendations based on a national news analysis and conversations with veteran reporters whose own work on this subject is exemplary.

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Webinar: Elements of newsworthiness and developing relationships with reporters

This tailored webinar for members of the San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium focuses on incorporating the elements of newsworthiness into pitches and media events as well as developing relationships with reporters, with a specific focus on health equity and the media markets in San Joaquin Valley.

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Equity arguments in news reporting on school nutrition policy

In 2010, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) brought a stronger focus on equity to federal policies governing school nutrition. The new policy increased low-income students' access to free- and reduced-price school meals and simplified administrative processes in districts with high proportions of eligible children. But were these details making it into news coverage? We conducted two related studies to find out how the policy appeared in news coverage and to what extent equity-based arguments were present.

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From 'bad apples' to broken systems: How Richmond residents rewrote the narrative on the formerly incarcerated

Residents and advocates in Richmond and Contra Costa County know that to create strong, healthy communities, they have to change misconceptions about formerly incarcerated residents and create a greater public understanding about the need for changes to the criminal justice system. This case study explores how a collaboration of city residents, local and county law enforcement, elected officials, community workers, and, most importantly, formerly incarcerated residents have done just that by creating a nationally recognized reentry network — one that owes much of its success to the power of storytelling.

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Webinar: More than mass shootings: What can we learn from an analysis of California news about gun violence?

When it comes to gun violence, news narratives are dominated by stories about mass shootings and federal policy fights, but day-to-day acts of gun violence — which account for the majority of deaths and injuries — and community level solutions to prevent them are much less visible. In this webinar, BMSG researchers discuss findings from an analysis of how three of the most common types of gun violence (community-level violence, domestic violence, and suicide) are portrayed in California news, and possible implications for journalists and community leaders who want to change the narrative to include hope, healing, and community-level action.

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Ending the school-to-prison pipeline: A case study of community-led disciplinary reform in Kern County

This case study tells the story of how advocates in Kern County, California, succeeded in creating a healthier school climate for students after learning that the local school district was suspending and expelling students of color at much higher rates than white students. Read on to learn how they used a combination of tactics, including community organizing, strategic communication, and legal pressure, to create major changes that will benefit young people for generations to come.  

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Issue 25: More than mass shootings: Gun violence narratives in California news

Gun violence is preventable, but not enough people know that because news coverage tends to characterize it as inevitable and extreme. Stories about mass shootings dominate coverage, even though these tragedies aren't the major cause of gun deaths in this country. How, then, do the three most common types of gun violence — suicide, domestic violence, and community violence — appear in news coverage? And to what extent are solutions discussed? We explored these questions and more in our latest news analysis.

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Healing Justice Alliance communications toolkit: Tools for changing the narrative about male survivors of violence

Trauma is preventable and we, as a society, can and must support our young men of color who are impacted by it, including by changing the public conversation about violence and trauma in our nation. To that end, the Healing Justice Alliance, a partnership between Youth ALIVE!, Cure Violence, the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP), and Berkeley Media Studies Group, created this toolkit to help organizations of all sizes and strategic aims that are working in this space to identify and achieve their communication goals.

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How Monterey County is advancing health equity using a Health in All Policies framework

This case study explores how the Monterey County Health Department is collaborating with partners to elevate the role of health in policymaking, better serve disenfranchised communities, and support the ability of all residents to reach their full health potential.

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Reframing housing as a health issue in Napa County, California

Together with community residents, elected officials, industry leaders, and community-based organizations, the Public Health Division of Napa County's Health and Human Services Agency is working to make housing more affordable for everyone in the county and to reframe housing as a health issue — not just for individuals, but for the entire community. This case study explores how they are using a combination of community engagement, policy change, and strategic communication to push forward innovative solutions to the area's housing crisis.

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Get Healthy San Mateo County: How supporting community leadership can help address the root causes of poor health

Through a collaborative led by the San Mateo County Health System's Health, Policy and Planning Program, residents are working alongside leaders from cities, schools, hospitals, and various county departments to make San Mateo County a healthy place for all community members to live. To understand how the collaborative could serve as a model for other health departments, this case study examines how it is being implemented, highlights challenges, and discusses lessons learned.

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Advancing Health Equity Awards, 2017: Highlighting innovative health equity practice in California public health departments

Along with their community partners, a growing number of health departments are expanding their traditional, service-driven scopes of work and striving to address the root causes of poor health. This series of case studies explores what award-winning departments in Napa, San Mateo, and Monterey counties are doing to eliminate health inequities, examines their successes and challenges, and offers lessons learned.

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Trauma, resilience, and #blacklivesmatter: How do racism and trauma intersect in social media conversations?

Despite the greater burden of traumatic experiences carried by communities of color, communicating about childhood trauma and its connections with race and racism can be challenging. In this report, we present the findings from our analysis of how these conversations intersect on social media and consider the implications for communicating about the intersections of trauma, racism, and racial justice.

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From farm to every fork: Rewriting the narrative on urban agriculture in Sacramento

Advocates and residents in Sacramento are using a combination of policy change, community power-building, and strategic communication to make it easier for people to take part in urban farming. This case study explores their tactics for strengthening access to healthy food, highlights victories and challenges, and shares lessons learned.

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Webinar: What's in a frame: Communicating effectively to get attention for sexual violence prevention

It can be hard to communicate about sexual violence clearly and effectively, and one key fact too often gets lost: Sexual violence can be prevented. BMSG and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center have partnered to explore what it takes to communicate with different audiences that preventing sexual violence is possible — and there are tangible steps everyone can take to be a part of the solution. During this Feb. 15, 2018, web conference, we highlighted key lessons from our latest framing brief; shared real-life examples of what’s worked and what hasn’t; and discussed challenges and opportunities communicating strategically in the current moment.

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Taxes and health equity — letter to the editor tips

Letters to the editor can signal community interest about a particular public health issue and send a message to policymakers. But what makes for a compelling letter, and how can advocates increase their chances of getting published? To support public health advocates in writing effective letters on the importance of how taxes can advance health and equity, BMSG and Public Health Awakened created this resource.

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Getting attention for prevention: Guidelines for effective communication about preventing sexual violence

The way we communicate about sexual violence can make a big difference in how our intended audience understands the problem and what to do about it. In this framing brief, we explore the nuances of framing sexual violence and provide building blocks for constructing messages about prevention.

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Issue 24: Adverse childhood experiences in the news: Successes and opportunities in coverage of childhood trauma

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a critical public health issue with implications for every sector of society, but communicating about them can be challenging. In this news analysis, we explore whether advocates have been able to successfully explain the implications of childhood trauma, including how solutions appear in news coverage and whether the link between children's environments and the trauma they experience is visible.

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Winter on the web: Strategic communications on the offense (Nov. 14, 2017)

On January 20, 2018, there will be countless news stories dissecting the impact of the new administration’s first year. What do you want these stories to say? In this webinar sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation, BMSG trainers discuss how to use this important milestone to influence the public conversation on the issues most important to you.

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Winter on the web: Strategic communications on the offense (Nov. 30, 2017)

On January 20, 2018, there will be countless news stories dissecting the impact of the new administration’s first year. What do you want these stories to say? In this webinar sponsored by the California Wellness Foundation, BMSG trainers discuss how to use this important milestone to influence the public conversation on the issues most important to you.

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Health equity & junk food marketing: Talking about targeting kids of color

When advocates communicate about junk food marketing, do they talk about health equity? In this framing brief, we describe findings from a content analysis of materials on food marketing, show why children of color should be at the forefront of our conversations about and actions to reduce target marketing, and suggest how we all can get better at discussing this critical public health and social justice issue.

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Immigration: A dialogue with Alameda County Public Health Department

Immigration policy can have profound impacts on the health of our communities. In this webinar, part of a "Communicating About Health Equity" series supported by The California Endowment, Berkeley Media Studies Group engages the Alameda County Public Health Department in a conversation about how they are working to bring public health to the forefront of public discourse on immigration.

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Big Data and the transformation of food and beverage marketing: Undermining efforts to reduce obesity?

Amid ongoing global concern about obesity, public health scholars need to be informed of the nature and extent of Big Data's impact on food marketing. In this article for Critical Public Health, BMSG's Laura Nixon and Lori Dorfman, along with our partners Kathryn Montgomery and Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy, explore how Big Data has transformed the food marketing system and offer suggestions for research strategies and public health interventions. Without interventions, the authors argue, the current system will increase health inequities.

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Communicating for change: Making the case for health with media advocacy

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, introduces advocates to tactics for engaging the media strategically to advance policy goals. The module discusses the news media's role in shaping debates on community health, helps advocates clarify their overall strategy and describes how that relates to a media strategy, message strategy and media access strategy. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Communicating for change: Planning ahead for strategic media advocacy

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, takes advocates through each step of developing a media advocacy plan: setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies and tactics, assessing resources, determining time-lines, and specifying who will do what. The module also shows advocates how to integrate communications planning organizationally and develop timely, proactive news coverage. Other trainings in the series are available at

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