Preventing Violence: What’s news got to do with it?

Wednesday, March 22 12:00-1:30pm 

Amado Recital Hall in Irvine Auditorium




It will be easier to make the big changes our communities need to prevent violence if we change the narrative around it and make prevention a visible part of the conversation. In this talk, Dr. Dorfman discusses the role of the news media, how connections among violence, youth and race get distorted in news reports on crime, and the prevalence of language in the news that minimizes the act of sexual violence. She also addresses the need to reframe news coverage in ways that highlight the social context for violence and potential solutions. She will share BMSG’s latest research that explores news portrayals of community violence and childhood trauma and make recommendations for how to shift one piece of our public discourse — the news media — to elevate prevention.


Speaker Bio: 

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, MPH, directs Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute, where she oversees BMSG’s research, media advocacy training and strategic consultation for public health advocates, and professional education for journalists. BMSG works with advocates to build their capacity to use media advocacy in confrontational policy environments so they can focus attention on transforming systems and structures to foster health. Dr. Dorfman’s research examines how the media portray health issues, including alcohol, tobacco, food, children’s health, health inequities, and violence, among others. Dr. Dorfman was part of an interdisciplinary team that helped news organizations include a public health perspective in their crime and violence coverage. She leads a team working with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to uncover the most effective ways to change the public conversation about sexual violence so it includes prevention. With colleagues at Center for Science in the Public Interest, she co-convenes the Food Marketing Workgroup, a national network dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing by actively identifying, investigating, and advocating changes to marketing practices that undermine health. With colleagues at the Center for Digital Democracy, Dr. Dorfman has been conducting research on digital marketing targeting children and youth. With colleagues at Prevention Institute, Dr. Dorfman is conducting research to determine how community violence, safety and trauma are portrayed in news. Since 1999, Dr. Dorfman has taught Mass Communication in Public Health at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is Associate Adjunct Professor. She received her Master of Public Health in 1989 and her Doctor of Public Health degree in 1994, both from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Dorfman’s publications are available from