Advancing cancer control research in an emerging news media environment

Katherine C. Smith, Jeff Niederdeppe, Kelly D. Blake, Joseph N. Cappella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cancer is both highly feared and highly newsworthy, and there is a robust body of research documenting the content and effects of cancer news coverage on health behaviors and policy. Recent years have witnessed ongoing, transformative shifts in American journalism alongside rapid advances in communication technology and the public information environment. These changes create a pressing need to consider a new set of research questions, sampling strategies, measurement techniques, and theories of media effects to ensure continued relevance and adaptation of communication research to address critical cancer control concerns. This paper begins by briefly reviewing what we know about the role of cancer news in shaping cancer-related beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and policies. We then outline challenges and opportunities, both theoretical and methodological, posed by the rapidly changing news media environment and the nature of audience engagement. We organize our discussion around three major shifts associated with the emerging news media environment as it relates to health communication: 1) speed and dynamism of news diffusion, 2) increased narrowcasting of media content for specialized audiences, and 3) broadened participation in shaping media content. In so doing, we articulate a set of questions for future theory and research, in an effort to catalyze innovative communication scholarship to improve cancer prevention and control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberlgt023
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute - Monographs
Issue number47
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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