REPORTING ON DEPRESSION: THE NEED FOR CHARACTER-BASED STORIES
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In this paper I examine how popular news stories represent depression, and how they may either successfully create accurate, balanced narratives, or fail to correct existing misconceptions. Mainstream reporting often discusses depression in the context of a controversy, and exposes unfamiliar audiences only to extreme depictions. Such reporting may fail to correct stigma and misconceptions. I summarize the general medical understanding of depression, common misunderstandings, and journalistic standards for reporting on mental illness. From there, I compare mainstream news stories with a feature article from Kaiser Health News to determine the potential benefits and weaknesses from the differing styles of reporting. I conclude that stories that allow for greater emphasis on character can likely provide greater insight for new audiences, and more beneficial information for people experiencing depression. I end with a reflection of my work on the accompanying audio piece I created.