Good working relationships with journalists are needed during public health crises
An Australian Government review of the health sector’s response to the H1N1 2009 influenza pandemic identified the importance of communications during times of public health crisis, and made a number of recommendations for improvement.1 Journalists were not listed among the stakeholders consulted for the review, despite the intensive and sustained media coverage the pandemic received.2,3 Given the important role of the media in communicating to the public and health professionals and in influencing attitudes and behaviours about public health advice,4 it is worth considering how journalists’ perspectives can help to refine and shape public health communication practices. As part of a larger study into media reporting and public understandings of the 2009 pandemic,2,3 we interviewed 24 journalists who reported on the pandemic in Australia, and they provided practical guidance for organisations and individuals involved in providing public health advice. The journalists and news managers worked in print and broadcast media, mainstream mass media and specialist medical outlets, and in metropolitan and regional areas.
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