Prepackaged video news releases are being increasingly used to motivate television stations to cover stories in medicine and public health in their news programs. On Feb 26,1987, the Office on Smoking and Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, distributed a prepackaged video news release to television stations across the country, calling attention to the new health warnings required on smokeless tobacco packages and advertisements. The video was sent by satellite as well as by overnight mail to selected stations. To assess the use of the video, we surveyed 76 stations that had been targeted by special intervention. These stations were in major metropolitan areas in states with a higher prevalence of smokeless tobacco use. Seventeen (22.4%) of the stations aired the story using our video during the six days following the satellite feed, reaching an estimated 2.8 million households. Another 20 stations reported that they were holding the video for use in the near future or for file footage. We conclude that the distribution of prepackaged video news stories can be an effective, relatively inexpensive technique to communicate health information to a large audience.
Davis RM. Health Education on the Six-O'Clock NewsMotivating Television Coverage of News in Medicine. JAMA. 1988;259(7):1036–1038. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720070036030