Between Art and Information: Communicating World Health, 1948-1970

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the advent of new media technologies and approaches in the twentieth century, public health officials became convinced that health needed mass media support. The World Health Organization believed that educating people, as well as informing them about the health situation around the world, could assist the enduring fight against disease. Yet in an increasingly competitive media landscape, the agency recognised the need to persuade people and hold their attention through attractive presentation. Public information, the name given to the multiple strategies used to communicate with the public, was rarely straightforward and required the agency not only to monitor the impact of its own efforts but also to identify opportunities to further enhance its reputation, especially when this was in danger of damage or misappropriation. The WHO’s understanding of public information provides insights into the development of international information, communication and education networks and practices after 1945, as well as the increasingly central position of these processes in generating support for and evincing the value of international organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-120
JournalJournal of Global History
Issue number1
Early online date14 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2018.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Communications
  • Mass media
  • Photography
  • Public information
  • World health

Cite this