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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Communicating for change: Shaping public debate with framing and messages

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, explains framing — what it is and why it matters — and helps advocates apply that knowledge to developing messages in advocacy campaigns. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Communicating for change: Creating news that reaches decision makers

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, explores different news story elements so advocates can gain access to journalists by emphasizing what is newsworthy about their issue. Advocates will explore how to create news, piggyback on breaking news, meet with editorial boards, submit op-eds and letters to the editor, and develop advocacy ads. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Communicating for change: Engaging reporters to advance health policy

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, allows advocates to practice being spokespeople for their issue. The module helps advocates learn to anticipate and practice answering the tough questions reporters ask. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Communicating for change: Targeting audiences with new communication tools

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, gives advocates an overview of basic digital communications tools, including blogs and viral marketing, so they can tailor their advocacy communications to specific goals and audiences. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Communicating for change: Training allies in strategic media advocacy

This module, created as part of the Health ExChange Academy's Communicating for Change training series, provides resources and interactive teaching techniques for advocates who want to train others in their organization on the fundamentals of media advocacy. Other trainings in the series are available at

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Generation of change: Communicating about prevention today, tomorrow and beyond

Prior to the 2017 National Sexual Assault Conference in Dallas, Texas, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center hosted the 2017 RPE Leadership Training. Ignite Talks sparked important conversations about advancing prevention work. In this Ignite talk, BMSG's Pamela Mejia reflects on the journey she took from believing that sexual violence was just an unfortunate part of life to realizing that it can be prevented. Pamela shares her insight into what it takes to move other people's hearts and minds to support prevention and to communicate that sexual violence prevention is possible, achievable and happening.

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

Mass media play a crucial role in shaping people's understanding of the causes of, and solutions to, ill health. In this article, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and colleagues review existing media studies on debates surrounding non-communicable diseases (NCD), with a special focus on how groups that increase NCD risk — tobacco, alcohol, processed food and soft drink corporations — are portrayed in media coverage. The paper also examines how corporate actors try to influence the way NCDs are framed in the news and identifies gaps in research.

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Circulating health: From research to practice: New collaborations, new ways of mediatizing health?

In this panel as part of the 2017 Circulating Health Conference hosted by the U.C. Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, BMSG Director Lori Dorfman discusses the intersection between media and public health, including the role environments and policy play in shaping population health; the way the news influences people's understanding of issues that affect health; and how health is framed in the media — often as an outcome of individual behavior, rather than social factors. Dr. Dorfman also explains the difference between media advocacy and social marketing, and she highlights the role of journalism in holding government accountable for its actions that impact health.

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The shift in framing of food and beverage product reformulation in the United States from 1980 to 2015

Food and beverage product reformulation is a nutrition policy strategy that has the potential to benefit public health and the food and beverage industry. However, reformulation has also been criticized as being driven by industry interests. In this article for Critical Public Health, Courtney Scott and BMSG's Laura Nixon investigate how and why reformulation became a public health initiative and uncover important context for debates on voluntary initiatives.

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Video: The Berkeley sugar-sweetened beverage tax: A transdisciplinary approach to evaluating the impact

In November 2014, voters in Berkeley, California, overwhelmingly approved a measure to tax sugary drinks. In this video, BMSG’s Laura Nixon and U.C. Berkeley’s Karen Sokal-Gutierrez discuss research on the soda tax, including how public debate surrounding it appeared in the media, what parents of young children think about sugary drinks and efforts to tax them, and how advocates can harness lessons from Berkeley to help pass sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in other locations.

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Countermarketing alcohol and unhealthy food: An effective strategy for preventing noncommunicable diseases? Lessons from tobacco

Countermarketing campaigns, an effective component of comprehensive tobacco control, use health communications to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing industry motives and undermining producers' marketing practices. Could countermarketing campaigns also be used to reduce the consumption of alcohol and unhealthy foods? This review describes common elements of tobacco countermarketing and assesses the strategy's potential for being applied to other public health endeavors.

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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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panel at ucla harvard food law and policy conference
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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