New York State Health Foundation

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Covering Health News on the PBS NewsHour

  • By: NYSHealth
  • Date: March 2017
  • Priority Area: Other
  • Type: Grant Outcome Reports
  • Category: Grant Outcome Report
  • Grantee Name: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc./NHP

Overview

The Greater Washington Telecommunications Association (WETA) is the second-largest producing station in the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) system and the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital. WETA produces PBS NewsHour—one of the nation’s most trusted and credible television news programs, now in its 40th year. Although there are more sources for health news available than ever, much of it is unreliable, politicized, or sensationalized. The challenge is to provide information that is factual, objective, and unbiased, all in a manner that is thoughtful and provides context. In 2016, NYSHealth awarded a grant to WETA to support health-related NewsHour programming.

Grantee: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc. / WETA / PBS NewsHour

Dates: January 2016 – December 2016

Grant Amount: $100,000

Grantee Website: http://www.pbs.org/newshour

Grant ID: 15-03827


Outcomes and Lessons Learned:

  • Produced four New York-focused health-related stories, including segments on HIV/AIDS, refugee health, community health workers, and drinking water in schools, that reached 1.6 million viewers nightly;
  • Aired 29 field tapes and 39 studio segments and produced 378 online-only articles on health-related issues over the course of the grant period; and
  • Earned more than 4.8 million page and video views and nearly 1.3 million engagements on Facebook.

Under this grant, NewsHour aimed to cover more of the New York-based and national health stories that need to be told. Specifically, the program expanded its focus beyond commonly covered issues, such as the continuing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, to include community efforts to improve health. The NewsHour examined traditional public health and clinical care issues, but also increasingly reported on themes aligned with the mission of NYSHealth, such as how healthy communities are being built and strategies to improve health care services for vulnerable populations. Four of the in-depth stories produced over the course of the grant focused on New York initiatives and organizations

The NewsHour had planned to raise sufficient funds to broadcast one health-related field report each week over the course of a year, but fell short of its fundraising goals and did not meet that target.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: NYSHealth was one of several co-funders of health coverage on the NewsHour. Other funders included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ($350,000), Commonwealth Fund ($200,000), and Kresge Foundation ($125,000).