Lori Dorfman, DrPH, MPH
Lori Dorfman, DrPH, directs Berkeley Media Studies Group, which works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the power of the media to advance healthy public policy. Dorfman oversees BMSG’s research that examines media portrayals of public health issues, including children's health, food and beverage marketing, nutrition, breastfeeding, violence, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Dorfman publishes frequently on public health and mass communication and co-authored the major texts on media advocacy, Public Health and Media Advocacy: Power for Prevention (1993: Sage Publications) and News for a Change: An Advocate's Guide to Working with the Media (1999: Sage Publications). She edited Reporting on Violence: A Handbook for Journalists, which demonstrates how journalists can include a public health perspective in violence reporting.
Dorfman co-chairs the Food Marketing Workgroup, a national coalition dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing. She teaches a course on mass communication at the School of Public Health at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. Dorfman consults with government agencies and community programs on a variety of public health issues, helping them apply the principles of media advocacy.
Dorfman earned a master's degree and doctorate in public health from UC Berkeley.
Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse in News Coverage
BMSG analyzed U.S. newspaper coverage of childhood sexual assault to provide the Ms. Foundation for Women and its partners a more thorough understanding of how journalists cover and frame the issue. This provides a framework for helping sexual assault prevention advocates decide how they can reshape the debate to focus on prevention.
Attorney General Interventions to Limit Unfair and Deceptive Digital Food Marketing to Children
The Berkeley Media Studies Group is working with the Public Health Advocacy Institute to: 1) investigate how food and beverage marketers use digital, especially mobile, media to target children; 2) analyze the implications of these marketing practices; 3) contribute to the analysis of how state attorneys general can use these campaigns; and 4) assist with publication of scholarly and policy documents.
Building Capacity to Make the Case for Healthier Beverage Environments
The overall goal of this project is to increase public health advocates' capacity to influence public debate and public policy on a critical aspect of the food and fitness environment: the beverage environment. BMSG is working with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and others in California to help advocates around the state build their capacity to make the case for healthier beverage environments.
Communicating for Change Trainings 2012-2013
The Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) will deliver 40 sessions of the Communicating for Change training curriculum to The California Endowment's grantees across California. Since BMSG first developed the program, hundreds of TCE grantees have learned concrete skills to engage the media strategically to advance their community health policy goals.
Communication Technical Assistance and Training
BMSG will assist FHI 360 with providing technical assistance and training to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Community Health grantees in the areas of media strategies, messaging and other communication skills for community engagement.
Communities Creating Healthy Environments
Berkeley Media Studies Group will focus on documenting, analyzing and helping local groups act on the latest marketing maneuvers from the food and beverage industry targeting children, youth and communities of color for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Communities Creating Healthy Environments program.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work: Messaging and Spokesperson Training
BMSG is part of ICF Macro's Resource Center, providing support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative. BMSG provides training workshops, individualized technical assistance, tools and individual community consultation on messaging, and spokesperson training for CDC grantees working to prevent obesity and promote tobacco control.
Consultation to PolicyLink for the Convergence Partnership
BMSG is providing consultation on framing and strategic communications for the Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of funders committed to supporting multifield, equity-focused efforts to improve communities so everyone can be healthy. PolicyLink, the Partnership program director, helps to develop strategy and advance the Partnership's vision and works with Prevention Institute to provide policy research and analysis.
Content Analysis of News Coverage of the Jerry Sandusky Child Sexual Assault Allegations
BMSG has conducted a content analysis of the news coverage surrounding allegations that Jerry Sandusky, a long-time coach at Pennsylvania State University, sexually abused boys. Through a previous project, BMSG analyzed typical news coverage of child sexual abuse and produced recommendations for journalists and prevention advocates. BMSG’s analysis compares the Sandusky coverage to prior news coverage of child sexual abuse.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Cause Marketing by the Soda Industry
With support from the Healthy Eating Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, BMSG examined the marketing tactics from soda companies and assessed their campaigns in light of how the tobacco industry employed similar strategies to thwart regulation, cultivate a positive business climate and gain public support.
Customized Strategic Communications Trainings at the Canadian Science Writers' Association Meeting
The Berkeley Media Studies Group will collaborate with the University of Ottawa in designing and delivering customized strategic communications trainings for population and public health researchers and science reporters with an interest in health who will be attending the 2013 Canadian Science Writers' Association Meeting.
Evaluating the Public Debate Over Fast-Food Zoning Ordinances
This project will examine the extent, and nature, of the public debate surrounding efforts to pass fast-food zoning policies. Studying news depictions of fast-food zoning ordinance campaigns will help researchers, advocates and policymakers who want to pursue similar measures understand —and better influence—the debates they are about to enter.
Food Marketing in the News and on the Web: A Content Analysis of Opinion Pages, the Trade Press and Websites Designed for Children
BMSG, through this sub-award with Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, analyzed the content of news and websites for breakfast cereal, fast food, and sugary beverage targeting children. BMSG studied one category each year to assess the digital techniques food and beverage marketers use to keep children interacting with their brands.
Food Marketing to Children Workgroup
BMSG and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) are convening and coordinating the Food Marketing Workgroup, a network of more than 120 organizations and academic experts in the U.S. who are concerned about the proliferation of marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages that targets children and adolescents.
Food Marketing Workgroup 2013
The Berkeley Media Studies Group coordinates the Food Marketing Workgroup, a network of more than 130 organizations and academic experts that works with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantees and the American Heart Association to reverse childhood obesity by focusing its advocacy on competitive foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and food marketing.
Framing Primary Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence
BMSG worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation's Delta PREP grantees to help coalitions understand challenges in current news coverage of violence; identify opportunities to create news around primary prevention of domestic violence; and frame intimate partner violence to emphasize prevention and promote policy solutions.
Health in All Policies Toolkit
BMSG is working with the California Department of Public Health to review and refine its messages supporting "health in all policies," an approach that considers how all of our public policymaking decisions impact health. BMSG is writing a chapter on talking about health in all policies for a toolkit the Department of Public Health is developing to help advocates make the case for why health in all policies helps protect physical and fiscal health, advance community engagement, and build relationships across government sectors.
Healthy Youth, Healthy Region Spokesperson Training
BMSG worked with the Sierra Health Foundation to amplify the effects of the Healthy Youth, Healthy Region report that the Foundation commissioned from the University of California at Davis' Center for Regional Change. BMSG advised the Foundation on the dissemination and media strategy for the report release and preparing Foundation spokespeople, including youth, to talk with reporters, policy makers and other civic leaders.
Informing Partners in the Communities Creating Health Environments Program of Unhealthy Practices of the Food-Marketing Industry
BMSG serves on The Praxis Project’s technical assistance team for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Communities Creating Healthy Environments program to ensure that all of its partners are: 1) aware of the latest marketing practices of the food industry, particularly in communities of color; and 2) equipped to challenge practices that interfere with establishing healthy environments for children and adolescents.
Media Advocacy for Healthier School and Neighborhood Environments
This project expands the capacity of advocates and youth journalists to tell effective stories about the importance of healthier school and neighborhood environments in California. The Berkeley Media Studies Group will assist with message development and framing, media advocacy training, and creation of an interactive online space for exchanging digital marketing information about food and beverages, and will track junk food marketing trends to inform policy making.
Personal Responsibility Rhetoric on Tobacco- and Obesity-Related Litigation, Legislation and News Coverage
BMSG is collaborating with the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University Law School to analyze arguments over who is responsible for causing, and remedying, two of the most serious public health crises in recent history: tobacco and obesity. BMSG and PHAI are examining personal responsibility arguments in litigation, legislation, and in news coverage during major tobacco and obesity events of the past 50 years.
Strategic Consultation to Communities Creating Healthy Environments Program
BMSG works with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Communities Creating Healthy Environments program to see that all of its partners are: 1) aware of the latest food industry marketing practices and 2) equipped to challenge those practices if they interfere with establishing healthy environments.
Talking About Prevention in Minnesota
To help Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grantees and Community Health Boards (CHBs) understand how their most important issues—nutrition, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco—are framed in the media, BMSG will analyze news coverage on these issues, recommend how best to frame prevention in the news context, train SHIP grantees to talk about prevention more effectively, and then reexamine whether SHIP and CHBs' key messages about prevention are included in news coverage.
The Food Marketing Workgroup
BMSG and the Center for Science in the Public Interest continue convening and coordinating the Food Marketing Workgroup, a network of more than 120 organizations and academic experts in the U.S. working together to reduce the marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages to children and youth.
Uncovering the Roots of Health Inequity: Lessons for Health Departments
BMSG is preparing a series of reports for the National Association of City and County Health Officials describing health inequities, the non-biological, and entirely preventable, systemic forces involved in shaping health. The series, part of a project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Injury Prevention and Control, examines the social justice roots of public health's history for clues on how getting back to those roots can help health departments work more effectively.
Marketing Sugary Cereals to Children in the Digital Age: A Content Analysis of 17 Child-Targeted Websites (2013)
Cereal companies, the third biggest food marketer to children, are using sophisticated online marketing techniques to target kids in ways not possible through television advertising. In this study, authors from PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Yale Rudd Center explore cereal companies' digital marketing tactics and implications for public health.| View
Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012 - Brief Report (2012)
Although research suggests that healthy products can be profitable for the food industry, marketers continue to target children with ads for foods and beverages that are unhealthy, cheap and widely available. Such marketing is linked to overweight, obesity and related health problems. This brief report, prepared by Healthy Eating Research based on BMSG research, explains the scope of the problem and offers recommendations for improvement.| Download
Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012 -- Full Report (2012)
American children and adolescents remain exposed to a disproportionate amount of marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages, in spite of some progress by industry, government and schools to improve young people's food environments. This report -- a review of academic and industry literature on trends in food marketing to youth, as well as policy interventions -- explains what this means for public health researchers and advocates looking to improve kids' health.
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents: Limited Progress by 2012, Recommendations for the Future (2012)
This Berkeley Media Studies Group report - a review of academic and industry literature on trends in food marketing to youth and in policy interventions - explains what it means for public health researchers and advocates that American kids remain disproportionately exposed to marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages despite some progress by industry, government and schools to improve food environments.| Download
Little Improvement on Food Marketing to Children (2012)
Children in the U.S. continue to grow up in environments saturated by food and beverage marketing, the bulk of it for foods low in nutrients and high in calories, sugars, salt or fats. Lori Dorfman, of PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, and Margo Wootan, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, argue for an international commitment to healthy food marketing policies.| Download
Struggling to breathe: How a health department is working with community members to reduce air pollution and improve health equity in Oakland (2012)
If you want to reduce and prevent health inequities, then you have to tackle their root social, economic and political causes. For busy health departments with tight deadlines and funding constraints, this no easy task. But, as one health department in California's Alameda County is showing, the results are worth it. And a few key strategies like collaborating with community and engaging the media can improve prospects for success.| Download
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents: An Environment at Odds with Good Health (2011)
The science is clear: The environments where children grow up, play and go to school affect their diets and health. In this research brief, prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research program, we show how children in the United States grow up in environments saturated by food and beverage marketing, the bulk of it for foods low in nutrients and high in calories, sugars, salt and fat.
Food Marketing in the Digital Age: A Conceptual Framework and Agenda for Research (2011)
Digital techniques are quickly evolving and unprecedentedly immersive. To assess the best ways to understand these new media effects, we convened a group of scholars to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of the digital practices on food and beverage consumption among children and youth and a research agenda to guide future studies of that impact.
Alcohol Marketing in the Digital Age (2010)
New technologies are fundamentally altering the tobacco and alcohol marketing landscape. Even as the "information superhighway" has given way to a web devoted largely to commerce, marketing is one of the least understood aspects of the new media culture. This report summarizes findings from a study that the Berkeley Media Studies Group conducted with its colleagues at the Center for Digital Democracy to identify and analyze the emerging tobacco and alcohol digital marketing practices and to assess the policy implications for both.
Talking about Breastfeeding: Why the Health Argument Isn't Enough (2010)
Public health advocates have for years been trying to increase the number of women who breastfeed by educating mothers about its health benefits. Breast milk improves babies' immune systems and decreases women's risk of everything from osteoporosis to type-2 diabetes. Reporters have trumpeted advocates' message, yet breastfeeding rates remain dismally low. In this Issue, we explore what's missing from the conversation and show how advocates in California are shifting the conversation to include the factors outside of health that make it hard for even the most well-informed women to breastfeed.
Funding Prevention in California: Lessons from Past Efforts to Raise Revenues (2009)
When it comes to prevention, the question isn't what works, but rather: how can we pay for what we know will create healthy environments? In this report, we examine whether past efforts to raise revenues in the realms of alcohol, tobacco, and lead paint might hold promise in the realm of food and activity. We present six case studies of those efforts and an analysis of news coverage of three California attempts to raise taxes or attach a fee to junk food or soda.
Moving from Them to Us: Challenges in Reframing Violence among Youth (2009)
This report explores how youth and violence have been framed in the news, how the issue of race complicates depictions of youth and violence, and how public attitudes about government can inhibit public support for violence prevention. It also includes recommended next steps for reframing violence among youth for UNITY, a national effort addressing the root causes of violence. The Appendix describes the methods for the literature review of research on news coverage included in the paper.
Debates from Four States Over Selling Soda in Schools (2008)
In 2006, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts and Maryland introduced legislation that included restrictions on the sale of soda in schools. That same year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation brokered a deal among soda companies to restrict soda sales in schools. We wanted to know: How were the arguments for and against restricting access to soda and junk food being portrayed in the news and in testimony before lawmakers? Who was making the arguments, and what were they saying?
Provoking Thought, Changing Talk: Putting it into Practice (2008)
Does a commitment to reducing inequality mean we know how to talk about it? We find out in this report, the inaugural issue of the "You Can Get There From Here" paper series from The Social Equity and Opportunity Forum at Portland State University. First, Joe Grady and Axel Aubrun of Cultural Logic discuss the difficulties inherent in talking about inequality. Then BMSG director Lori Dorfman and Larry Wallack explore how to overcome those difficulties and put changes into practice.