The BMJ has a debate of sorts this week, “Does celebrity involvement in public health campaigns deliver long-term benefit?”
Since you need a subscription to read the point/counterpoint, I refer you to news stories about it, such as the one in the Los Angeles Times. Or you can find other news coverage here, including an ABC News story that quotes me.
Meantime, AP’s television writer, David Bauder, boldly asks, “How Much Is Too Much In Robin Roberts Coverage?” regarding the anchor’s bone marrow transplant. Excerpts:
“Everyone wishes Roberts good health. But the extent of (ABC Good Morning America’s) attention raises questions about how much is too much, and whether legitimate concern can spill over into exploitation.
“It’s a fine line between educating the audience and bringing them up to date, and crossing over and turning that into a ratings booster or an audience grabber,” said Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at the New York University Langone Medical Center.
The high-profile patient is a star on a morning news show that just ascended into first place in a heated ratings battle with the long-time champs at NBC’s “Today” show. An extended absence by Roberts at a key time in that competition was a worry for ABC News, even though “Good Morning America” hasn’t lost much of its audience appeal since she left.
“You can inform and help a lot of people, but there is a tipping point,” said Shelley Ross, former “Good Morning America” executive producer and once Roberts’ boss. “In my opinion, it has hit a tipping point when you have other anchors showing up in her hospital room (to) cheerlead. That was the point where it was not informative. It suddenly becomes a thread in a soap opera.
“I don’t think that’s the intent, but that’s what happened,” Ross said. “