ABC partners with GHI for new TV series

ABC News and the Duke Global Health Institute have established a partnership to create a year-long television series covering health issues around the world.

“Be the Change: Save a Life” premiered Dec. 17 on a special edition of “20/20.” The series will focus on the challenges that face various people in need of health care in nine of the world’s poorest countries. In addition to providing research analysis and statistics for the television series, DGHI will also contribute to the series’s website. The partnership will extend over the rest of the year.

“The DGHI and Duke are very excited about this unprecedented opportunity to influence and support this initiative,” Geelea Seaford, DGHI assistant director for communication, wrote in an e-mail. “The commitment of ABC News to undertake this year-long global health series is to be commended, and we hope will ultimately have tangible results that improve access to health and health care around the world.”

The initiative will be led by “World News” anchor Diane Sawyer and Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’s chief health and medical editor. The series is supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and with an investment from ABC News of more than $4.5 million that covers personnel and production costs.

Seaford said because DGHI spans multiple departments, she believes that it is a good fit for ABC.

“The Duke Global Health Institute is an attractive partner for many reasons,” she said. “It is an interdisciplinary, university-wide institute that draws upon faculty and expertise from all of Duke’s outstanding schools.”

Seaford added that the series will be beneficial for both Duke and ABC.

“This partnership is important to raise awareness of global health issues and challenges among the vast and diverse ABC News audience,” she said. “Our partnering with such an influential and leading news organization like ABC News will help increase recognition of Duke and the Duke Global Health Institute as leaders in global health.”

Anna Barry-Jester, a consultant for ABC who recently visited Duke for purposes related to the series’s production, said she believes it is worth the hefty investment because it will have tangible benefits.

“I know that for ABC, this is an opportunity for the reporters to work on stories that they really care about and that they don’t really get a chance to tell a lot—the stories that aren’t really a part of the normal news cycle but still matter,” she said.

The partnership will also cause a significant increase in stories concerning global health during the normal news cycle as well as the number of hours devoted to the subject during prime time.

Barry-Jester noted that the relationship with Duke will give ABC easier access to credible information.

“I know that, for ABC, they like having the collaboration with Duke to get some expertise on global health issues,” she said.

The series has sparked interest among students as well.

“Although I don’t watch ABC, my parents do,” said junior Matt Mrozek. “They would probably see the series at some point since it’s on for the whole year. I’m sure it’ll do a lot to raise awareness about global health issues. Also, my major, chemistry, obviously concerns health issues, so I plan on taking a look at the series myself.”


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