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Lori Dorfman

Lori Dorfman

Director, Berkeley Media Studies Group, a project of the Public Health Institute, and Lecturer, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
Expertise: News analysis of public health issues, media advocacy

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, directs the Berkeley Media Studies Group, a public health research and training organization helping advocates raise their voices, break through the din, and be heard at the time when it’s most important — when policy decisions are being made.

Dr. Dorfman oversees BMSG’s research on the news, media advocacy training for advocates, and professional education for journalists. She conducts training for grass roots organizations and public health leaders and consults for government agencies and community programs in the United States and internationally. She teaches a graduate course on mass communication and public health at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

Her research examines how local television news and newspapers portray public health issues, including racial discrimination, children’s health, nutrition and agriculture, infectious disease, paid family leave, youth and violence, intimate partner violence, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Dr. Dorfman has written extensively on public health and mass communication. She co-authored the major texts on media advocacy: Public Health and Media Advocacy: Power for Prevention and News for a Change: An Advocates' Guide to Working with the Media. She edited Reporting on Violence: A Handbook for Journalists, which helps reporters include a public health perspective in violence reporting. She is part of an interdisciplinary team that conducts workshops on violence reporting for newspapers and local TV news stations.

Dr. Dorfman’s latest work, “Accelerating Policy on Nutrition: Lessons from Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms, and Traffic Safety,” consolidates practical experience from specific policy battles to help public health funders and practitioners identify what could be facilitated now to accelerate progress on obesity. In a recent news analysis, “Issue 15: Obesity Crisis Or Soda Scapegoat? The Debate Over Selling Soda In Schools”, she applies framing analysis of news coverage to help public health nutrition advocates find themselves on the continuum of debate and be better able anticipate their opposition.


Dorfman, L., Wallack, L. The Case for Reframing Obesity. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, forthcoming.

Dorfman, L., Wallack, L., Woodruff, K. More Than a Message: Framing Public Health Advocacy to Change Corporate Practices. Health Education and Behavior, 32(4):320-336, June 2005.

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