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New book acknowledges media's role in public health

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A new edited book by Brunel Sociologist Dr Lesley Henderson with Professors Judith Green (Global Health, Kings College London) and Shona Hilton (MRC/CSO, University of Glasgow) draws together a collection of key work from leading international researchers in the field of critical public health.

 Media Analysis and Public Health: Contemporary Issues in Critical Public Health published by Routledge presents new approaches to studying public health in traditional and emerging media, suggesting there is a need for more analyses that focus on the production of media and on power dynamics, as well as studies of audience reception of media messages.

Dr Henderson, Reader in the Department of Social and Political Sciences explains, “Media has become a cornerstone of public health and it is vital that we now ask important questions about who is influential in producing the stories we see in the press and on social media? Who benefits, and who is damaged, by media debates on health topics?"

This book explores the role of big business in seeking to shape public opinion and consumption in print and online media and looks at a range of topics in the media including immunisation, smoking and pregnancy, alcohol marketing, drug safety, loneliness and handwashing.

The editors argue that since mass media is a crucial element of civic society, more in-depth understanding of how it works and what impacts it has on public health is essential.

Given the crucial role of the media in shaping health debates, pushing certain issues up the policy agenda, defining problems for audiences and presenting potential solutions, this book’s analysis will be of interest to all those studying how the media shape policy, as well as public health researchers with an interest in mass communication.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Critical Public Health.