Dr. Hussein Amin of the American University in Cairo (left) talks with Dr. Becker during the conference.

Cox Center Researchers Release Results Of Studies on Training Programs and Media Markets

As a result of participating in a special training program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, heath journalists began to rely more on experts in the Centers in writing about health and thereby improved their coverage of health topics, according to researchers at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia, made a report on the research findings about the CDC program at the International Association for Media and Communication Research in Cairo, Egypt, in July.

The research showed that the journalists did not “radically changed what they did as a result of the program,” Dr. Becker said at the Cairo meeting. But the change in use of sources is an “important outcome,” he added, and it “seems likely that coverage of health stories is better because of it.”

The research found that the journalists in two of the three years of the study shifted away from the individual health practitioner and the patient as sources and began to rely more on expert sources, particularly those at the CDC.

A separate study, also released at the Cairo meeting by Dr. Becker and his colleagues, examined the strategies employed by 13 radio and television networks to successfully operate in six emerging media markets in Eastern and Central Europe and Asia. The researchers found that commercial broadcasters in these countries were able to operate more efficiently and flexibly in addressing problems than were most of their Public Service Broadcasting counterparts.

Commercial broadcasters were more likely to report audience growth than were PSBs, the researchers found, with the news and public affairs focus of PSBs and their historical connection to governments potentially contributing to audience defections.

PSBs tended to have aging audiences that were less attractive to advertisers and faced more limitations on their ability to combat declining audiences by adopting new programming strategies, the researchers found.

The two reports are the products of separate research programs in the Cox Center. One examines the impact of training programs for working journalists in the U.S. and around the world. The other studies media markets in countries transitioning to market economies.

The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The Cairo meeting was attended by more than 1,000 researchers from around the world and ran from July 23 to 28 at the American University in Cairo.

Dr. Becker presented the paper on the training program at the CDC to the Professional Education Section of the Conference. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Tudor Vlad, assistant director of the Cox Center, and four former graduate students in the Grady College, all of whom held research assistantships in the Cox Center and worked on the evaluation project. The four research assistants are Amanda Swennes, Benandre Parham, Lauren Teffeau, and Marcia Apperson.

The paper on emerging media markets was presented at the Cairo meeting by Dr. C. Ann Hollifield, a professor in the Department of Telecommunications at the University of Georgia. Drs. Becker and Vlad were co-authors of the paper.

Funding for the evaluation of the CDC program was provided to the Cox Center through a research contract with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami. The Knight Foundation supports the CDC training program.

The Cairo conference was hosted and organized by Dr. Hussein Amin, head of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at the American University in Cairo, and his staff. Dr. Hussein studied with Dr. Becker during Dr. Amin’s graduate studies at the Ohio State University.