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Taking the Temperature: The Future of Global Health Journalism

Aiming to take a snapshot of the state of global health journalism, a report produced for the Kaiser Family Foundation found that shrinking newsroom budgets and the closing of many foreign bureaus are curtailing global health coverage within traditional news media outlets. Advocacy and nongovernmental organizations are increasingly bypassing news outlets and producing their own content, leading to questions about how global health news will evolve. In addition, with outside sources now funding some global health journalism coverage, the long-term sustainability of such funding is brought into question.

Commissioned by the Foundation, journalists Nellie Bristol and John Donnelly interviewed 51 stakeholders in global health journalism, including reporters, editors and producers from mainstream publications and news outlets, and policy, trade and medical journals; writers from advocacy outlets; and staff at journalism fellowship organizations.

Those interviewed suggested that disaster-related health crises and infectious disease outbreaks were the main focus of global health reporting. In many cases, journalists said that they were having a difficult time finding compelling angles for long-time global health stories such as HIV/AIDS or policy stories emerging from Washington, D.C.

Brief (.pdf)

On February 9, 2011, the Foundation convened a forum examining the state of global health journalism drawing on the findings of this report. A summary of that discussion is available online.