In the wake of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, the nation has been focused on remedies to curtail gun violence and other ways to address violent behavior in our society.
The cable industry is working hard to make a positive contribution to that national dialogue. We joined recently with Hollywood, the broadcasting industry, movie theater owners, and other groups in launching a nationwide campaign to help parents manage media consumption by their kids and families. This effort is designed to remind parents of the tools at their disposal to block or filter out TV shows and movies they feel are too violent for their children, or otherwise inappropriate for family viewing.
Another topic central to the issue of gun violence is mental health. Mental illness appears to have contributed to recent mass shootings in the U.S. and around the world. We applaud and agree with policy makers and advocates who have called for greater attention to mental illness and stronger efforts to provide mental health solutions to those who need them.
So it was a good day this week when Associated Press (AP) announced it had revised portions of its legendary style guide, the AP Stylebook, to help journalists report with more clarity on issues endemic to, and surrounding, mental health. We believe that better, more comprehensive, and more concise reporting of stories on mental health and mental illness will lead to a greater understanding of the impact of mental health on society – and could play a key role in designing better solutions to mental health problems.
We’d also note that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) praised the AP for updating the Stylebook and urged broadcast journalists to adopt the suggested guidelines for mental health reporting – a recommendation we wholeheartedly support, for journalists everywhere.
The AP Stylebook revisions also won praise from another partner of ours, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) , a unique industry nonprofit that works to bring the power and influence of the entertainment industry to bear on communication about health and social issues.
“The [AP Stylebook] entry will have widespread, long‐term impact on the way the media report on mental health and increase the likelihood that those who need treatment will seek it,” EIC noted. EIC further offered a robust toolkit of resources to help journalists and those in the entertainment community better communicate issues and themes around mental health.
We think these efforts are important, and pivotal in creating a safer and more nurturing environment for our families and children.