In order to determine the most appropriate way to work with the media, program staff must first gain an understanding of the media options available in their area. Ideally, this should be part of a situation analysis.
At this stage, program staff will want to note which independent, public or state-owned, mainstream or alternative media is available in their area. In most countries, there is a local media or journalism association that can provide a detailed list of all the different media outlets in-country. This search should go beyond mainstream media options, to identify community newspapers and radio stations. They should also find out whether there is an association specifically for health or science reporters in-country, and if not in-country, regionally, such as the African Health Journalists Association (AHJA). Journalists who are members of these associations will generally be receptive to working with public health practitioners, and will most likely bring some knowledge of public health concerns to the discussion. This step will help determine which news sources will make the best partners.
Some questions program staff may want to ask members of these associations include the following.
For general journalist associations:
- Do you have members who specialize in specific journalism beats?
- If yes → Does your association have health beat journalists, whose outlets regularly feature health news?
- If no → Would you be interested in introducing health journalism as a specialist beat among your members?
- Would you have an interest in inviting health professionals to your gatherings to speak with members about reporting on malaria and the issue of SSFFC malaria medicines?
- Are you aware of any health journalism training or funding opportunities? If so, what are they?
For members of a health journalist association:
- What resources do you consult for writing health stories?
- Do you host or co-host regular meetings with health professionals to discuss story approaches in the field of health?
- What health related training or fellowship opportunities have been available in your country in the past year? In the next year?
- What initiatives has your association hosted or facilitated to improve health reporting? What about reporting on malaria? SSFFC malaria medicines?
- Do you have members who specialize in reporting on drug supply and regulation issues? What about malaria?
- What are the challenges you/members of your association face when reporting on health? What about malaria? Drug supply issues?
- How can we, as health professionals, ensure that more accurate and engaging stories concerning SSFFC malaria medicines appear in the media?
- Are SSFFC malaria medicines already being covered?
- If not, are there other issues being covered that relate to SSFFC malaria medicines?
- What are the main themes and arguments being presented on various sides of the issue?
- Who is reporting on SSFFC malaria medicines or stories related to it?
- Who appear to be the spokespeople?
- Who is writing op-eds or letters to the editor on SSFFC malaria medicines? What side are they taking?
- Are there any solutions being presented?
- Who is named or implied as having responsibility for solving the problem? Is your target audience named in the coverage?
- What stories, facts or perspectives could help improve the case for your side?
- What’s missing from the news coverage of SSFFC malaria medicines?