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News Alert The Medias Role in Communicating Risk to the Public

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Title: News Alert The Medias Role in Communicating Risk to the Public


1
News Alert! The Medias Role in Communicating
Risk to the Public
  • A Snapshot of Food Health in the News
  • 2005 Institute of Food Technologist Extension
    Division Annual Meeting Symposium
  • David B. Schmidt
  • Executive Vice President
  • International Food Information Council Foundation
  • July 19, 2005

2
International Food InformationCouncil (IFIC) and
IFIC Foundation
  • Mission To communicate science-based
    information on food safety and nutrition to
    health and nutrition professionals, educators,
    government officials, journalists and others
    providing information to consumers.
  • Primarily supported by the broad-based food,
    beverage and agricultural industries.

3
Where do consumers get their food safety and
nutrition information?
The Media
4
Cancer label for foods is consideredSan
Francisco Chronicle 5/25/05
Warnings urged over baby milk powderFinancial
Times 5/21/05
World is unprepared for an Avian-flu
pandemicWall Street Journal 5/26/05
Toxin found in breast milkThe Indianapolis Star
2/27/05
Calls for more data on harmful furan in
foodsFood Navigator, 14/01/2005
5
Food Safety Media CoverageMay 2004-June
2005Global Coverage, U.S. vs. International(Comp
arison)
Lexis-Nexis Media Coverage of U.S. and
International Newspapers and Newswires
6
Food Safety Media CoverageBioterrorism and Food
SafetyJuly 1, 2004 - July 15, 2005
Lexis-Nexis Media Coverage of U.S. and
International Newspapers and Wires Search Term
Bioterror! and (food safety or food security)
IFIC 2005
7
Preparedness of Journalists
Jeff Cowart, The Foundation for American
Communications (FACS)
8
Media in Transition
  • Pressure for something new every 45 seconds
  • Fewer TV medical and health reporters,
    qualified print food editors and writers
  • Critical role of wires
  • Increasing verticality of media ownership
  • Proliferation of viewing and listening resources,
    including Internet
  • Shrinking and growing news hole
  • Increasing globalization of media

9
Food For Thought Research
A Quantitative and Qualitative Content Analysis
of Diet, Nutrition and Food Safety
Reporting Commissioned By International Food
Information Council (IFIC) Foundation Conducted
By Center for Media and Public Affairs Release
Date March 2004
10
Food For Thought V
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Food
    News1215 Stories
  • May through July 2003
  • 40 News Media Outlets
  • 12 Magazines
  • 10 Newspapers
  • 2 Wire Services
  • 7 Local Television Stations
  • 4 National Television Networks
  • 5 Online News Sites
  • Fifth in a 9-year Tracking Survey

11
Food For Thought V
  • AMOUNT OF COVERAGENUMBER OF STORIES

12
Food For Thought V
  • KEY FINDINGS
  • Obesity is the Lens Through Which All Issues Are
    Viewed
  • Functional Foods - Leading Source of Benefits
    Covered
  • Biotech Focus Shifts to Trade Issues
  • Dietary Fats Resurge Due to Trans Debate
  • Government Experts Weigh-In
  • More Context Being Offered

13
Top Five Topics Of Discussion
Food for Thought V
14
The Importance of Context
15
Context Assessing the Relevance of Health
Attributes
Food for Thought V
16
Context Reporting of Scientific Research
Food for Thought V
17
Quoted Sources
Did not track until 2001
Food for Thought V
18
Example of Context
  • Exercising for 40 minutes can reduce stress. In
    fact, studies show that working out on a regular
    basis can be as effective as taking
    antidepressants like Prozac.
  • Mens Health magazine
  • ?Amount ?Scientific Evidence

Food for Thought V
19
Attributes Of Food Mentioned Most Often
Food for Thought V
20
Top 10 Benefits from Functional Foods
Food for Thought V
21
Examples of Functional Foods Headlines
  • Eating Fish May Help Cut Alzheimer's Risk
    Seattle Times
  • FDA to Allow Qualified Health Claims on Foods
    USA Today
  • Cancer-Fighting Lycopene Is Found in Watermelon,
    Too St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Food for Thought V
22
Reports of Harms vs. Benefits
Food for Thought V
23
Top Sources of Harm
Food for Thought V
24
Examples of Harmful Headlines
  • Limit Your Intake of Trans Fats as Much as
    Possible St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • HEALTHBEAT Too Salty A Push to Lower Hidden
    Sodium in Food Associated Press
  • 'Mad Cow' Case Spurs Bans on Canadian Beef Los
    Angeles Times

Food for Thought V
25
Food BiotechnologyReported Harms vs. Benefits
Food for Thought V
26
Food Safety and Foodborne Illness in the News
Food for Thought V
27
Factors Linked to Weight Gain
Food for Thought V
28
Reported Factors Linked to Obesity
Food for Thought V
29
Solutions/Treatments for Obesity
Food for Thought V
30
The Debate Over Food Labels
Question Posed by the Media Do the Labels Change
Dietary Behavior?
Food for Thought V
31
The Debate Over Food Labels
Question Posed by the Media Should the Food
Labels Be Changed?
Food for Thought V
32
Food For Thought V
  • KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Obesity is BIG News
  • Consistent Reporting of Disease Risk Reduction
  • Context is Increasing, but Still too Little

33
The Risk Information Gap
Technical documents Scientific journals
Government reports
News items Cocktail party conversations
Advocacy group reports
The vacuum
Public risk perceptions
Expert risk assessments
34
Overcoming Barriers
Perception is Reality
35
Factors that Interfere with Messages Being Heard
  • Failure to address underlying concerns
  • Credibility of the source
  • Real or perceived advocacy inconsistent with the
    facts
  • Reputation of bias or misrepresentation
  • Self-serving framing of messages
  • Inconsistent and contradictory messages across
    credible sources

36
Risk Communication
  • Attitudes about health-related risks
  • Risk communication for health issues
  • When
  • Why
  • Challenges and barriers related to risk
    communication
  • Effective techniques to put risk into perspective

37
Factors Associated with Increased Public Concern
  • Catastrophic potential
  • Unfamiliar
  • Decision processes not understood
  • Lack of personal control
  • Involuntary exposure
  • Delayed effects
  • Children at risk
  • Risk to future generations
  • Lack of trust in relevant institutions
  • Much media attention
  • Previous history
  • Unclear benefits
  • Potentially irreversible effects
  • Origins caused by human actions (vs. act of
    nature)
  • - Covello, in NRC, 1989.

38
What Is Risk Communication?
  • It is communicating information about an issue of
    concern and uncertainty.
  • It may involve a potentially dangerous matter.
  • It may be employed in a time of anxiety and
    indecision.

39
Basic Tenets of Risk Communication
  • Risks perceived to be voluntary seem more
    acceptable than risks that are imposed.
  • Risks perceived to be under ones control seem
    more acceptable than those under someone elses
    control.
  • Risks accompanied by clear benefits seem more
    acceptable than risks seen as having little
    benefit.
  • Risks perceived to occur naturally seem
    preferable to human-made risks.
  • Risks of harm perceived as statistically small
    seem easier to accept than much smaller risks
    perceived to be catastrophic.

40
Responding to Negative Food Safety News
  • Provide larger context amidst breaking news
  • Compare prior knowledge of the issue
  • Consider implied risk with previous epidemiology
  • Give big picture risk perspective without
    dismissing results of a single study
  • Let recognized experts do the driving

41
Questions? schmidt_at_ific.orgTHANK YOU!
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