- This publication presents a study of how the news media cover health issues. It tests the premise that television news programmes and newspaper stories distort perceptions of risk to health by under reporting serious public health issues that kill many people, such as obesity and smoking, focusing instead on 'scare' stories such as BSE/vCJD, or stories about the 'NHS in crisis'. Public health professionals and policy makers interviewed for the study expressed concern about the lack of media coverage of serious public health risks. However, most journalists and editors interviewed believed their role was to prioritise what is new or revelatory, rather than to repeat information on public health, or to recycle what they perceived to be 'old news'. This publication discusses how health is reported in the news media, why it matters, and whether anything can or should be done to encourage a closer alignment between what health statistics tell us are the biggest risk factors, and the weight of news coverage.