Infectious Disease

Most cable TV audio system with COVID-19 content material are usually not docs

December 14, 2020

1 min read

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Disclosure:
Tezel reports that while conducting the study, he received research grants from the University of Michigan Medical School and grants from the U.S. Department of State outside of the work submitted. In the study you will find all relevant financial information from all other authors.

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Doctors made up about a fifth of the individual speakers and last spring provided less than a third of the speaking time for COVID-19 content during five-week primetime programming on cable TV.

According to researchers, most of the speakers who were doctors were men.

Reference: Tezel A, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2020; doi: 10.1001 / jamainternmed.2020.6285.

“Given the long history of the news media’s role in shaping public awareness, we wanted to investigate whose voices are being broadcast.” Alangoya Tezel, BA, An MD candidate at the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues wrote.

Researchers analyzed prime time programming on Fox News Network, CNN, and MSNBC from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern / Pacific Time, a “highest rated” time slot. The analysis was carried out from May 18 to June 19, 2020.

Tezel and colleagues reported that of 220 unique guests who delivered 351 interviews on COVID-19 content, 21.4% were doctors. These MDs (n = 45) and DOs (n = 2) provided 32.4% of the 1,304.5 minutes of COVID-19 content. Of these unique doctors, 25.5% were women who accounted for 14.7% of all doctor interviews and 15.5% of consultation time. MSNBC had 30.4% unique representation of female doctors, which comprised 21.2% of the 33 interviews and 18% of the 119.5 minutes for COVID-19 content. Fox News Network had 0% female doctors represented during the entire study period.

Women were also asked less than once several times in the examined networks: 83.3% appeared once, 16.7% three times or more. Conversely, 54.3% of the men occurred once and 28.6% three times or more.

In a separate cohort of doctoral students without a doctor, 20.7% of the 29 speakers were women, who accounted for 17.1% of these interviews and 15.1% of the total speaking time of 152 minutes. Within this cohort, 100% of women and 87% of men occurred only once.

“This study provides informative descriptive information on medical professional representation and the gender gap in media representation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Tezel and colleagues. “This inconsistency with the composition of the workforce could undermine the perceived legitimacy of women doctors in a national crisis.”

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