Background: Despite the long history, wide reach and unique influence of Black newspapers in many African American communities, no national studies have examined how these newspapers cover health and cancer issues, or reader perceptions of their coverage.
Design and participants: A two-year national sample of Black newspapers (n=24) and community-matched general audience newspapers (n=12) was reviewed, and 8,690 health and cancer stories were identified and content analyzed. A survey of 783 Black newspaper readers in the same 24 communities assessed reading frequency and perceptions of reporting for both types of newspapers, as well as readers' health concerns and cancer screening behaviors.
Results: As a proportion of total health coverage, Black newspapers published more cancer stories than general audience newspapers, and their stories were more likely to contain localized information, address disparities, focus on prevention, include calls to action for readers and refer readers to cancer information resources (all P<.001). Black newspaper readers identified cancer as the health issue that concerned them most, yet rated it the fourth most important health problem affecting African Americans.
Conclusions: Black newspapers hold promise for helping to eliminate cancer disparities by increasing cancer awareness, prevention, and screening among African Americans.