Detecting Changes in Newspaper Reporting of Suicide After a Statewide Social Marketing Campaign

Published in: Health Communication [Online March 2017]. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2017.1298198

Posted on RAND.org on April 04, 2017

by Michele Abbott, Rajeev Ramchand, Margaret Chamberlin, William Marcellino

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A social marketing campaign was introduced in California in 2012, promoting media adherence to consensus-based guidelines on reporting about suicide. We examine adherence to these guidelines by applying quantitative scores to articles in California and a national control group in two six-month intervals prior to and following campaign implementation. Utilizing a difference-in-difference approach, we found no significant effect of the campaign, though the type of article content was a significant indicator of the overall score. Findings also demonstrated a nation-wide downward trend in the quality of reporting. Qualitative results suggest a need for more flexible guidelines in light of a technologically driven news culture.

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