Local TV News May Be Hazardous to Your Health

After studying health segments on 122 local television stations, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Michigan concluded, "Few newscasts provide useful information, and some stories with factually incorrect information and potentially dangerous advice were aired." Yet, "Americans rate television as their primary source of health information." The researchers noted "pervasive health stories" that aired in "more than 10 media markets" sometimes included "identical video," suggesting the use of video news releases (VNRs). Since TV health segments are around 30 seconds long, "only small portions" of the VNR package "make it onto the air." PR Week's "PR Toolbox" column suggests including "a personal story" in healthcare VNRs. "A news station doesn't want to appear as if it is promoting a product," but "someone who has a personal story to tell ... will be viewed as a Good Samaritan who wants to help others ... not merely as a spokesperson."