Public, News Media at Odds Over Health Care

Project for television news managers on health care issues and the news media

The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, New York carried out a national survey of reporters, news directors, and the public about health care issues between August 1995 and October 1995.

Key Findings

  • Findings from this nationwide survey of 1,002 adult citizens, 302 local television news directors, and 150 local television health/medical reporters included:

    • The public is eager for more local TV coverage of changes wrought by managed care, but is critical of the quality of existing coverage.
    • The public, news directors, and health reporters see the country losing ground in its health care system.
    • Although four in 10 (39%) news directors and close to half (47%) of health reporters see progress in the local health care system, only a quarter of the public see things getting better (28%), and just as many see things getting worse (29%).
    • News directors do not seem to regard access to health care as the major problem for middle class families.
    • The insured public is uncertain that their health plan will provide them with the medical services they need if they become ill.

The project also funded a symposium of leading news directors and audience research specialists at the annual meeting of the Radio and Television News Directors Association in New Orleans in September 1995.

At this symposium, attended by more than 400 news directors, the survey served as the basis of a discussion that challenged how decisions are made concerning health care coverage, and explored how the health care system affects a community and its residents.