Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas

Media & Communications

The Public Health Institute understands that the ways in which the public’s health is presented in the media shapes our understanding of root causes and viable health solutions. We are committed to using and amplifying these findings to support the media and policy efforts of public health advocates in their efforts to create healthy environments for all communities. 

PHI delivers incisive, timely analyses of how much coverage a public health issue is getting, how it is being framed in news or marketing media, and how effectively advocates have used the media to further their policy agenda. We also provide content analyses for the academic and policy communities, using scientific methods to explore in greater depth the nature and extent of a public health issue's coverage and framing.

Our expertise includes:

  • Research: Our experts can provide insight on how a wide variety of health issues are framed in the media—including violence prevention, food and activity environments, health equity, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
  • Policy development and advocacy: We are available to produce policy-oriented materials, such as framing briefs and case studies, on how specific health and equity issues are discussed in the media, by policymakers, and by communities at large. 
  • Media advocacy: Learn to recognize the news media's role in shaping debates on community health with our technical assistance and trainings.
  • Evaluation: PHI staff can help track your issue in the media, as well as your media advocacy efforts, to help illustrate your successes in reframing key messages, amplifying community voices, and impacting overall news coverage on a local, national, or even international scale. 



Resources and Tools

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Norman Constantine

Norm Constantine, PhD, is a research psychologist and methodologist who directs PHI’s Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Developmen...

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Lori Dorfman

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, directs Berkeley Media Studies Group, which works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the...

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Dan Gillette

Dan Gillette works at the intersection of design and culture, with a special focus on public health, disability, civic life, education, and healthc...

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Berkeley Media Studies Group

Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the power of the media to advan...

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PHI Design Center

The PHI Design Center addresses both external and internal design needs related to public health, including, but not limited to: consultation, code...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Building an Online Learning Community of Engaged Health Practitioners

Our online workshops and webinars unite organizations, communities, and individuals in conversation about the public's health. Our first Dialogue4Health Web Forum, back in 2008, was born from months of planning, deliberation, design, and testing. Now with years of experience behind us and an international community of practitioners, policy makers, researchers and activists at our side, we have a jam-packed calendar of live events, social networking, and an ever-expanding resource library.

Our presence and our platform are growing immensely, but our purpose remains true to our first forum: we are devoted to connecting the practice of public health to partners in other sectors who have the power to deeply influence health outcomes. Today, we've hosted over 200 Web Forums with over 44,000 attendees.

Communicating for Change

The Berkeley Media Studies Group’s Communicating for Change training program helps community health advocates build media advocacy skills to make their case effectively for policy changes in hotly contested public debates. The Communicating for Change curriculum has provided training in core media advocacy skills to 600 California Endowment grantees, including learning to frame issues from a public health perspective, to package the important issue as a newsworthy story, and to argue the case effectively even in the face of opposition.

Following the training series, the Los Angeles County Violence Prevention Coalition Director, Kaile Shilling, reported a series of successful media “hits” that she attributed in large part to how prepared she felt from the training. 

Helping Youth Speak Up

PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) helped a group of committed young people from Fresno become more effective spokespeople for reducing school dropout rates, an issue the youth had worked on for years. The group wanted to change the local school district's harsh discipline policies, which drove up suspensions and expulsions and eroded trust. BMSG taught the young advocates how to effectively frame and develop messages for their issue in advance of a hearing before the Fresno Unified School District.

After the young people testified, the district approved an alternative approach to discipline, promising to dedicate a portion of its budget to reiterative justice programs that replace punitive measures with conflict resolution and, ultimately, help keep kids in school.