Media’s pH Value

Introducing our new campaign on public health and the role of the media.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Media’s pH (public health) Value is an initiative launched by Newslaundry in partnership with Chitra Subramaniam Duella(Stanford and Delhi Universities), Founder CSD consulting (Switzerland) and Dr Franklin Apfel, health communicator (Swathmore, Columbia and UC Davis) and Managing Director of World Health Communications Associates (United Kingdom)

Media’s pH Value is a long-term campaign with the following objectives.

Data to Decision: The role of media in policy change and relevant action.

Enter the stadium: Overcoming obstacles to accessing health information.

Democratise knowledge: Making health information understandable.

Bring it home: Enhancing the utility of health information for all.

We invite all Newslaundry viewers and members of the news media (especially those that work on the public health beat) to be part of this campaign.

The first part of Media’s pH Value will focus on the tobacco industry.

Tobacco kills 3,300 Indians every day, the death and disease toll compensated by the nearly 6,000 daily recruits to cigarettes, bidis, gutka and some forms of paan bahar. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says tobacco addiction is a communicated disease – communicated through devious advertising and marketing, sometimes to children as young as three. The vector – says the international health body – is the tobacco industry, which is the single largest obstacle to tobacco control worldwide. Unlike the mosquito which is the vector for malaria, the tobacco industry is a man-made death machine which causes strokes and heart-attacks and cancers with the only motive of financial gain and profits.

Is this correct? Do tobacco companies lie? Does a cigarette contain acetone and toilet cleaning liquid? Where did the Marlboro man and his death machine go after being kicked out of the West? Is the tobacco industry active in India? Are Indian public health officials aware of actions against the tobacco industry worldwide? What do the millions of tobacco industry documents which were placed in the public domain after the Minnesota case contain?

You ask. We ask. Newslaundry invites you to India’s first public discussion on a public health issue – tobacco addiction and the role of the tobacco industry and news media in it. Beginning today we will post questions on tobacco and public health with a focus on the disease burden, the cost to the exchequer, solutions proposed by WHO to assist tobacco growers, etc. We invite wide participation by all parties interested in saving lives and advancing public health.

On September 9, 2013, we will hold a briefing (watch this space for location and time) on tobacco industry activities worldwide and in India. The briefing will be followed by a tutorial on the role of media, advocacy and communications in public health with a special focus on tobacco control.

Newslaundry is pleased to announce that this initiative will be partnered by Who’s There? Yes (WTY), a global journalism and health mentoring initiative launched by Chitra Subramaniam Duella(Switzerland) and Dr Franklin Apfel (United Kingdom).They are united by a mutual interest in understanding journalism and public health as public goods.

Journalism and public health are public goods and journalists are key contributors to people’s health literacy (the ability to access, assess and use information for health). Poor health literacy is associated with poor health choices, increased illnesses, higher health costs and death. Health literacy is one of the strongest predictors of health along with age, gender, ethnicity, income and empowerment. Paradoxically, journalism training does not often focus on public health, and the study of public health gives low priority to the role of journalists as public health educators and informers. WTY aims to address this paradox by raising the health literacy of journalists and an awareness of their roles and their responsibilities to raise health literacy of others. Based out of Geneva, Switzerland, the world capital for public health, WTY works with key policymakers, advocates and analysts and National Public Health Authorities including Ministers of Health from WHO’s 194 member states.

Readers can send in their personal experiences and any media reports or misreports which they feel are relevant – to our facebook page or mail us on

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