Celebrity and health promotion: How media can play an active role in cancer prevention and early detection
Priscila Biancovilli, Gabriel de Oliveira Cardoso Machado and Claudia Jurberg*
It is well-known that celebrities can influence the mass public, helping to shape behaviours and attitudes. The goal of this research is to understand the impact of a celebrity’s cancer news on Brazilian society. Our hypothesis is that news about celebrities with cancer attracts much public attention, but the media squander the chance to educate, inform and enlighten the public about this disease. We
studied the news published in online newspapers about the Brazilian actor Reynaldo Gianecchini, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011. We selected news published
during specific periods – those during which there was a surge in searches on Google, according to Google Trends tool. This study shows that the public is interested in seeking information about cancer when a celebrity is diagnosed with the disease. Although the public has shown interest in knowing more about the disease, the media
gave greater focus on celebrity itself. Journalists provide content with a more emotional and dramatic bias – especially when it comes to celebrities.
Key words: Cancer, media, social media, twitter, celebrities.