Sydney University        Canberra University        Melborne University

About the collaboration

The Australian Health News Research Collaboration (AHNRC)was launched in 2005 as an association of researchers from the School of Public Health and the Department of Media and Communications at University of Sydney who were interested investigating in the ways in which health and medical issues were covered in the news and infotainment media. A 3 year competitive grant received from the Cancer Council NSW (2006-08) saw the consolidation of a digital collection of all health and medical news, current affairs and infotainment items broadcast on the 5 free-to-air Sydney TV channels. The grant saw a program of research resulting in 11 research papers and the growth of the TV database. The Sydney TV database today has over 23,000 digital items, growing at about 120/week. Bona fide researchers can access the database by applying here. A set of frequently asked questions about both browsing the database and viewing the video clips is here and the conditions of use here. You can go directly to the video collection here (first time users will need to register first and have this approved -- typically within the hour on weekdays).

The AHNRC also has access to a collection of some 18,000 Australian print news items on mental health, as well as instititutional access to the Factiva database. Together, these sources provide an invaluable backbone of data for those involved in the collaboration. The AHNRC's TV database can be made accessible by application to researchers for bona fide research purposes. Applications should be directed to Simon Chapman.


2009-2013:NHMRC Capacity Building Grant #571376: The Australian Health News Research Collaboration (Chapman S, Blood W, Pirkis J): $1,897,375

2009:NHMRC H1N1 grant #628010. Public and media understandings of H1N1 within a risk communication environment. (Blood W, Chapman S, Pirkis J). $107,340

2010-2012:NHMRC project grant #632840, Calling the tune? Investigating corporate influences on media reporting of health. (Chapman S, Kerridge I, Jordens C, Bacon W, Bonfiglioli C, Sweet M.) $415,500.

2010-2012: ARC Discovery grant #DP1096251: Changing the media diet - Investigating the power of the news media to prevent obesity (Bonfiglioli C, Chapman S, Smith B) $255,000

2010: Cancer Institute NSW: Tobacco control news media research project. $123,750

The AHNRC is committed to fostering the further development of collaborative research across six types of study:

1. Textual analysis: content, thematic, discourse & dramaturgical analysis, including study of expert, clinical, interest group and patient "news actor" roles;
2. Audience studies: focus group & experimental studies of how general or particular audiences "consume" or deconstruct meaning in media coverage (eg: risk perception, the nature of disease, the credibility of public health and medical advocates and of those opposing public health initiatives);
3. News production studies: interview and observational studies of news gathering and reporting; source selection and operational notions of newsworthiness; that is, the factors that operate to 'play up' or 'play down' or ignore health issues in the news;
4. Accuracy and quality studies: reportage measured against a priori standards of accuracy, comprehensiveness or quality of evidence (particularly re drugs, diagnostics, "breakthroughs", preventive advice);
5. Studies of the relationship between reportage and changes in consumer demand for health care (eg: studies of patient requests for particular drugs, testing or procedures; studies examining the attribution of influence of the media in consumer decisions about health-related behaviour);
6. Studies of interest group efforts to influence health news coverage (eg: health NGOs, community groups etc).

We hope to expand the collaboration in the coming months and years by encouraging Australian health media scholars to work with us and contribute to the development of research in this emerging area.