Background: press releases provide packaged content and sources for journalists reporting on medical science and health stories. Public relations practitioners target the media through press releases presented in a style that replicates news yet advances the interests of their clients. Journalists are trained in journalism school to research and interview multiple sources to properly weigh the story. Current conditions in major newsrooms in Canada and the United States are generally perceived to be challenging for reporters who are expected to do more work with fewer resources as a result of staff cutbacks, mergers and other cost saving measures.

Objective: to evaluate if specialist reporters are less likely to rely on single sources from press releases as a basis for their newspaper and television stories.

Study design/methods:Content analysis of seven major mainstream newpapers and three full length national television newscasts over a two week period from March 1 through 14, 2008, plus an e-survey of specialist medical reporters working in these media.

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The use of the press release in medical science and health news reporting in Canadian newspapers and television newscasts.

Kathryn O'Hara   Carleton University, School of Journalism and Communication

Background: press releases provide packaged content and sources for journalists reporting on medical science and health stories. Public relations practitioners target the media through press releases presented in a style that replicates news yet advances the interests of their clients. Journalists are trained in journalism school to research and interview multiple sources to properly weigh the story. Current conditions in major newsrooms in Canada and the United States are generally perceived to be challenging for reporters who are expected to do more work with fewer resources as a result of staff cutbacks, mergers and other cost saving measures.

Objective: to evaluate if specialist reporters are less likely to rely on single sources from press releases as a basis for their newspaper and television stories.

Study design/methods:Content analysis of seven major mainstream newpapers and three full length national television newscasts over a two week period from March 1 through 14, 2008, plus an e-survey of specialist medical reporters working in these media.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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