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Study shows power of police and fire officers as injury-prevention messengers
Date:5/1/2008

rview with public service professionals such as police officers or firefighters. But such stories were far more likely to include prevention and risk-reduction information nearly 2.5 times more likely for stories about motor vehicle crashes, and more than 2.75 times more likely for stories about fires.

Now, Pribble and his colleagues are hoping to survey police and fire departments around the country to see how they handle inquiries from the news media, how many officers have been trained as media spokespeople, and other issues. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has embarked upon its own research and training efforts to help departments become more media savvy.

Pribble and his colleagues are also preparing to analyze more TV coverage of unintentional injuries, including coverage on Spanish-language news around the country.

The studies rely on detailed analysis of thousands of hours of local news broadcasts that were recorded and compiled by University of Wisconsin Newslab, a unique facility directed by co-author Kenneth Goldstein, Ph.D., that was originally developed to study TV coverage of political campaigns.

Pribble, Goldstein and their colleagues have already used the University of Wisconsin Newslab resource to study local TVs coverage of health, and of specific issues such as stroke and kidney disease. They targeted injury and injury-prevention because of their huge public health impact and yearly toll on the American public, as well as because of the widespread news coverage of such events.

Going forward, Pribble says, its important for police and firefighters to be ready to speak about the steps that the public can take to reduce the risk of a fire, or to increase their chances of surviving a car crash.

But its also important for such spokespeople to be up to date on the current status of public policy issues related to injury prevention, he notes. Television reporters may
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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