The Hollywood, Health & Society program held a conference on the impact of health content in TV storylines on African American and Hispanic audiences in the United States. The objective of the conference was to gain a better understanding of the potential for TV shows to encourage positive health effects among African American and Hispanic audiences. This two-day conference included expert presentations, real-world examples by social marketing and entertainment industry experts and discussion groups organized to identify other examples, summarize lessons learned and develop next steps for entertainment-education research among multicultural audiences.
Experts discussed the more than 41 million Americans with no health insurance, and real people shared their experiences of trying to find healthcare. Leading medical experts agree that going without health insurance frequently leads to emergency hospitalizations, critical illness, and sometimes, premature death. Opening remarks were delivered by actor Noah Wyle of "ER."
The Third Sentinel for Health Award was given to The Bold and The Beautiful (CBS) for the storyline, "Tony's HIV," for its portrayal of a young man learning to live with HIV. The award was presented at the Soap Summit conference sponsored by Population Communications International. The first-ever Pioneer for Health Award was given to Agnes Nixon for "Bert's Pap Smear," a storyline that aired in 1961-1962 on Guiding Light (CBS).
Youth audiences are prized targets for TV shows, film, and advertising, but are kids growing up too fast? Do they suffer physically or emotionally from the messages conveyed in entertainment and advertising? What is our responsibility as influential adults and writers? Panel members included Al Jean, writer and executive producer of "The Simpsons"; Michael Borkow, writer and co-executive producer of "Malcolm in the Middle"; and Sharon Lee, co-president and co-founder of Look-Look. The moderator was Victoria Riskin, president of Writers Guild of America, West.
Fact-based storytelling raises complex challenges. Consider bioterrorism: Should you write about it, or will it alarm viewers or give terrorists ideas? How constrained by the facts should you be? Where can you get accurate information? What is your responsibility as a public citizen and as a dramatist?
The Second Sentinel for Health Award was given to The Young and the Restless (CBS) for the storyline "Raul's Diabetes" for its portrayal of diabetes in a teenager. The award was presented at Soap Summit VI, hosted by Population Communications International.
Media effects and behavioral change are discussed by Miguel Sabido, the internationally recognized father of entertainment education, and Albert Bandura, founder of the social learning cognitive theory. Bandura, a professor and a psychologist, showed through his seminal Bobo doll studies in role modeling that audience members learn behavior as effectively from televised models as from ones in real life.