Media Studies 24, Section 1

Health in the Headlines (1 unit, P/NP) SEATS AVAILABLE

Professor Elena Conis
Tuesday 3:00-4:00, 332 Giannini Hall, Class number: 27777

Which health and medical stories get featured in the news? Who covers them, how does coverage vary across media, and why do some stories get attention while others do not? In this seminar, students will examine some of the biggest health news stories of the last decade, including the Ebola and Zika epidemics, the Disneyland measles outbreak, vaccine fears, drug pricing, prescription drug abuse, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), and more. Seminar participants will discuss the coverage of these stories in print, digital, and visual media with special attention to key patterns, problems, and breakthroughs in reporting on issues related to health and the U.S. health care system. We will consider the role of the media as a social and political institution, and critique media coverage of health with attention to issues of representation, identity, and inequality. We’ll explore how politics, economics, cultural traditions, and technology shape health news stories, and how such coverage influences and reflects public attitudes and values with respect to health.

Instructor Bio

Elena Conis is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Journalism and an affiliate of the Center for Social Medicine and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society. A historian of medicine and journalist, Conis is the author of Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization (Chicago 2014) and a former award-winning health columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty in 2016, Conis was an assistant professor of history and Mellon Fellow in Health and Humanities at Emory University and the Cain Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Her research and writing focuses on the history of health controversies in the U.S.

Faculty web site:

This seminar is part of the following programs

Food for Thought