Publications

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Issue 23: Shaping stigma: An analysis of mainstream print and online news coverage of abortion, 2014-2015

Abortion is one of the safest, most common medical procedures, yet it remains shrouded in shame, stigma and controversy. To learn more about the possible role of media in reflecting and reinforcing this stigma, BMSG, in collaboration with our partners at Sea Change, analyzed blogs, op-eds, news articles and other media coverage of the abortion. In this Issue, we share our findings, along with recommendations for advocates and journalists to improve coverage.

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War is not the answer: Framing collective action for road safety

News about traffic safety often portrays the issue as a battle in which every road user must look out for him or herself. This characterization undermines equity and shared action. In this Framing Brief, we explore the nuances of the divisive frame and identify ways that traffic safety advocates can move the conversation toward community, cohesion and shared action for safety.

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Beyond the traffic report: The news about road safety and Vision Zero in San Francisco

In this report, BMSG and InterEthnica analyzed news coverage of traffic safety in San Francisco to understand how the issue is framed and what the implications are for the city's Vision Zero effort to eliminate traffic injuries and fatalities.

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Examining the public debate on school food nutrition guidelines: Findings and lessons learned from an analysis of news coverage and legislative debates

Understanding how school nutrition has been portrayed in the news is key for advocates working to build support around the country for policies that promote and maintain healthy school environments. This study, conducted in collaboration with the Public Health Advocacy Institute, provides a look at how discussions of school food nutrition policies unfolded in the selected states in the wake of a landmark national policy — the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

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Investigating the digital path to purchase for food and beverages: A research agenda for the modern marketing age

Food, beverage, restaurant and entertainment companies are increasingly harnessing Big Data to target consumers in retails settings, yet researchers do not know how their tactics influence diets and community health. To help close that knowledge gap, this memo reviews existing literature on food- and beverage-related digital marketing strategies and outlines recommendations for future research.

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The opioid epidemic in the news: Findings from an analysis of Northern California coverage

As the opioid epidemic worsens, it is critical to understand how the news is shaping people's understanding of the issue and what can be done about it. In this report, supported by the California Public Health Department, we analyze news coverage from Northern California outlets, provide insights into how the issue is framed and suggest questions for additional research.

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Webinar: Examining the public debate on school food nutrition guidelines: Findings and lessons learned from an analysis of news coverage and legislative debates

With support from the Healthy Eating Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Public Health Advocacy Institute examined news coverage and legislative documents from 10 states around the country to better understand how advocates, the food industry, policymakers and others have shaped discussions about school nutrition guidelines since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This webinar recording includes a summary of our findings, as well as a discussion of how they might inform future communications efforts around healthy school food environments at the state and local level.

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Video: Food marketing to children

BMSG's Lori Dorfman speaks at the 2016 UCLA-Harvard Food Law and Policy Conference: "Food Marketing to Children: The Current Reality and What Can Be Done." As part of a panel discussion broadcast on C-SPAN, Dorfman discusses how food and beverage companies digitally target kids, the health and privacy concerns their tactics raise, and how we can help hold industry accountable.

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Rejected. Reflected. Altered: Racing ACEs revisited

In the summer of 2016, BMSG was honored to join the RYSE Center, along with a group of practitioners, researchers and community advocates in Richmond, California, to discuss the connections among racial oppression, white privilege, childhood trauma and health outcomes. This memo captures highlights from the group's exploration of how racial justice can be positioned at the center of trauma-informed work. 

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Mother and child promotion: A preliminary analysis of social media marketing of infant formula

One potential — but often overlooked — barrier to successful breastfeeding is the widespread marketing of infant formula. Infant formula marketers spend millions on direct-to-consumer advertising each year, exposing women to marketing in health care settings, retail stores, print ads and online. However, digital infant formula advertising is understudied and poorly understood. To help address this research gap, we’ve conducted a preliminary analysis of how infant formula is marketed through social media.

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Preliminary review of consumer protection and self-regulation of infant formula marketing

Historically, the infant formula industry has focused heavily on health care provider-directed marketing to reach new mothers. Now, it also seeks to engage women with an ever-expanding range of direct-to-consumer marketing tactics that include traditional marketing on television, coupons, elaborate websites, rewards programs, infant feeding advice hotlines, social media marketing and product packaging. This memo provides a preliminary overview of consumer protection policies that govern infant formula marketing and related self-regulation and international codes of conduct.

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Advocating for soda taxes: How oral health professionals fit in

BMSG's recent analysis of how soda tax debates are characterized in the news revealed that oral health professionals seldom appear. By elevating their expert voices, oral health practitioners can contribute new and salient arguments for soda taxes to the public discourse and help advance public policy that improves oral health outcomes. In this journal article for the California Dental Association, we propose media advocacy strategies that oral health professionals can use to increase their visibility in the news to make the case for soda taxes.

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Webinar: Changing the discourse about community violence: To prevent it, we have to talk about it

It will be easier to make the big changes our communities need to prevent violence if we change the narrative around it and make prevention a visible part of the conversation. In this webinar, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Prevention Institute and the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department discuss their recent study on news portrayals of community violence and how to shift the media's discourse to elevate prevention and multi-sector collaboration.

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Changing the discourse about community violence: To prevent it, we have to talk about it

It will be easier to make the big changes our communities need to prevent violence if we change the narrative around it and make prevention a visible part of the conversation. In this report, Berkeley Media Studies Group, in partnership with the Prevention Institute and with support from the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Department, explores news portrayals of community violence and makes recommendations for how to shift one piece of the discourse — the news media — to elevate prevention and multi-sector collaboration.

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Why media representations of corporations matter for public health policy: a scoping review

Media representations play a crucial role in informing public and policy opinions about the causes of, and solutions to, ill-health. This paper, co-authored by BMSG's Lori Dorfman and published in BMC Public Health, reviews studies analyzing media coverage of non-communicable disease debates, focusing on how the industries marketing commodities that increase disease risk are represented.

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Workshop summary: Climate change and health communications

In October 2015, the Center for Climate Change and Health convened a group of 20 health and communication experts to discuss how past health communication campaigns can inform work on climate change. This summary of that workshop, which was developed with consultation from BMSG's Lori Dorfman, includes insights from tobacco control, obesity prevention, media advocacy and health equity communications. It also features recommendations for policy-change goals, research, framing and messaging.

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Communication strategies to advance Vision Zero

This case study from the Vision Zero Network, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, examines the communication approaches that San Francisco and New York City have used to frame traffic deaths as preventable and foster both individual and institutional change. The case study includes contributions and insights from BMSG's Pamela Mejia on the media's role in influencing the public's and policymakers' perceptions of the issue.

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Webinar: The news about childhood trauma: Findings and implications

As part of a Futures Without Violence webinar series about children's exposure to trauma, BMSG's Pamela Mejia shares BMSG research on news portrayals of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The research found that news coverage of ACEs is on the rise but is still minimal compared to other public health issues. Mejia discusses opportunities for increasing the visibility of trauma in the media, showing how it is connected to other issues, and framing it as preventable. Listen to the webinar or view the slides or transcript

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Tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries -- why do public health practitioners view them so differently?

Public health officials often view food companies as legitimate partners in improving population health, even as they eschew interactions with the tobacco and alcohol industries. In this journal article for Frontiers in Public Health, BMSG's Lori Dorfman, along with colleagues from the U.S., U.K. and Germany, explore why this is the case, in spite of significant health harms associated with all three industries. They also make recommendations for steps that public health researchers can take to reduce harmful corporate influences on health.

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Webinar: Mind the gap: Framing the relationship between community retailers and community health

Developing effective, values-based messaging is an essential aspect of public health advocacy. In this webinar, Phil Wilbur, a consultant for the Berkeley Media Studies Group, discusses message framing as a crucial part of an overall strategy for tobacco control. Phil explains the concepts and contexts behind public health messages of prevention, and leaves viewers with takeaways for future message development that can help programs link problems to effective policy solutions.

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What surrounds us shapes us: Making the environmental case for tobacco control

Environments play a large role in influencing the public's health. Yet, in the United States, most people think that individuals are masters of their own destiny. Advocates can use this resource to learn how to create messages that broaden individual responsibility frames and help people see that environments affect health. When people understand that connection, they are more likely to support policies that improve those environments.

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Soda tax debates in Berkeley and San Francisco: An analysis of social media, campaign materials and news coverage

In this news analysis, we explore what arguments pro- and anti-tax campaigns made, how the soda industry was characterized in news coverage, and what this means for advocates looking to reduce soda consumption in other cities.

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Soda tax debates: A case study of Berkeley vs. Big Soda's social media campaign

Advocates can use this case study, produced in collaboration with our partners at John Snow, Inc., to strategize about using social media in their campaigns to pass sugary drink taxes, fight chronic diseases and protect public health.

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Infographic: Nine recommendations for sugary drink tax advocates

In 2014, the residents of Berkeley, California, launched an effort to institute the nation's first tax on sugary drinks. Along with our partners at JSI, we examined the social media activism surrounding the successful "Berkeley vs. Big Soda" campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Based on our findings, we offer nine recommendations for advocates looking to promote similar policy changes. 

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Video: How news media shapes our understanding of youth violence and sexual assault

As part of an Institute of Medicine workshop on the social and cultural norms that underlie the acceptance of violence, BMSG's Lori Dorfman discusses the role of the news media, how connections among violence, youth and race get distorted in news reports on crime, and the prevalence of language in the news that minimizes the act of sexual violence. She also addresses the need to reframe news coverage in ways that highlight the social context for violence and potential solutions.

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