Coverage of cancer in local television news
- Cite this article as:
- Gantz, W. & Wang, Z. J Canc Educ (2009) 24: 65. doi:10.1080/08858190802664727
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Background. The news media provide significant health information to the American public. Although the public turns to and trusts local television news, news about cancer has not been systematically examined. Methods. In this content analysis, we examined 40,112 news stories aired in the 3rd, 25th, 87th, and 150th sized market in the country, all located in the Midwest. Results. In total, 386 stories focused on cancer. News stories about cancer were short and occurred less than once for every 30 minutes of news. The amount of news coverage of specific cancer sites was not consistent with cancer incidence rates. Similarly, the demography of cancer patients featured in the news differed from that in real life. Few stories provided follow-up information. The average story required a 10th-grade education to be understood. Differences across markets were not systematically related to market size. Conclusions. Cancer coverage was scattered and abbreviated. For both cancer practitioners as well as the general public, local television news cannot be counted on as a primary vehicle for cancer information.