ABC News Announces One-Year Reporting Series On Global Health Issues

ABC News on Wednesday announced “a yearlong project to focus attention on the diseases and health conditions that afflict the world’s poorest people,” the Associated Press reports (10/6).

The project – “Be the Change: Save a Life” led by World News Anchor Diane Sawyer and Chief Health and Medical Editor Richard Besser – starts “in December and will continue through 2011,” according to Broadcasting & Cable. The project includes plans for a website “focused on gathering stories and providing more information and solutions for those who want to get involved” (Domanick, 10/6).

An ABC Television Network press release states: “ABC News will invest more than $4.5 million in the series, covering personnel and production. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving a $1.5 million grant that will specifically help fund overseas travel and foreign production costs. As with all reporting and sponsorships, ABC News has complete editorial control over the content of the series” (10/6).

According to information from an interview with ABC News President David Westin, as part of the project, the network will include “extensive coverage of world health issues on all its programs, and … an hourlong prime-time special this December to kick it off, and another hour in prime time next December to conclude the coverage,” the New York Times’ “Media Decoder” blog reports. 

The network “will disclose the support of the Gates Foundation each time a report that uses some of those funds appears on the air,” the blog writes. Westin said that ABC News executives met with Tachi Yamada, president of the global health program at the Gates Foundation, to get ideas for possible areas of coverage. Westin “noted that many of the health issues affected children; among them malaria, pneumonia, unclean water and HIV/AIDS” (Carter, 10/6).