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Cancer Control Research

5R21CA098437-02
Stryker, Jo Ellen
MAINSTREAM AND ETHNIC/MINORITY NEWS COVERAGE OF CANCER

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The news media are an important source for cancer information in our society. It is therefore critical that the content of cancer news reports is known. However, there have been no efforts to provide a comprehensive description of cancer news coverage in more than twenty years. Subsequently, there have been many advances in cancer research, and new concerns have emerged. Since little is known about current cancer news reporting, this exploratory descriptive study of cancer news coverage will provide a foundation of knowledge that can be used to generate future research. This study will combine earlier measures used to describe cancer news coverage with new measures that address emerging concerns and current priorities in cancer research and communication. For example, this study will quantify the amount of media attention paid to specific cancer types; describe specific topics across the cancer continuum of prevention, detection, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life issues; and analyze several ways in which news stories are framed, including how risk is communicated. These measures will be used to conduct 3 different analyses. First, the measures will be applied to a sample of cancer news stories that appeared in the top 50 U.S. newspapers during 2002. By analyzing co-occurrences of the distributions of different measures wherever sample sizes permit (e.g. assessing differences in risk communication by cancer type), a more advanced understanding of cancer news coverage can be developed. Second, by applying the instrument to both "mainstream" and ethnic and/or minority news media, comparisons of cancer coverage will be made between the two media types. Such an exploratory analysis may provide important insights into differences in social norms, risk perceptions, and prevalence of cancer-related behaviors that have been reported among various racial and ethnic groups. Third, we will determine how coverage has changed over time. These analyses, in conjunction with information about the Internet and a sub-study exploring the dissemination of wire stories, will provide us with a strong foundation with which to build our future research, including: identifying areas of cancer news coverage that require more detailed analyses, developing studies of cancer news coverage in different media, and generating specific hypotheses about media effects of these messages.


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