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Specialty matters. Analysis of health journalists’ coverage about vaccines

Abstract: This study examines specific professional patterns among health journalists, and assesses whether these differ from those among generalists in the case of vaccines. 131 articles were analysed from national newspapers in Spain, of which 52% (n=68) were written by specialised health journalists. Content analysis was undertaken to examine the differences in terms of journalistic genre, frames, tone, sources and length of the article. Results revealed key journalistic patterns and confirmed that health journalists perform significantly differently than other authors in terms of journalistic genre, tone, sources and length of the article. Health journalists wrote more features and less opinion articles, from a more neutral perspective, using a wider number of scientific sources, especially those from professional associations and scientific journals. These findings provide insights into the process of health journalism, and identify potential aspects to further develop the profession for the broad dissemination of health news to the public.

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