Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Media Who Cried Flu

During the early stages of reporting about this new swine flu pandemic, I found myself not paying much attention. It seems that every few years now the media is trotting out stories about some new germ or virus that will destroy us all. Remember SARS? Recall the unease over the avian flu? You barely hear about them now. Heck, I rarely hear about AIDS anymore and that actually killed people I knew. Every time I checked the news online, multiple headlines were dealing with the swine flu (CNN had 3-4 swine flu headlines running at the same time at one point). There were news stories about how handshaking might become a thing of the past because now there is SWINE FLU! Swine flu was going to change the way we lived forever.

Even with two young kids to worry about, I found myself disinterested in the swine flu stories and unable to take them seriously. Our news media has cried wolf too many times for me to take them seriously about something like this. They are so quick to spread fearful stories before getting all the facts. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, news stories come out that the swine flu is no worse than (gasp) the regular plain old flu which kills 36,000 Americans a year. In other words... no need to panic. It's not a good thing, but your world isn't going to turn into Stephen King's The Stand either.

One last gasp of the swine flu story is that it might combine with the avian flu (see story here) I think that we should call the avian/swine flu offspring "flying pig flu." It will at least make it more entertaining when the media is trying to panic its audience.

1 comment:

Mr.Macabre said...

I used to totally freak out about the crisis du jour until I realized that it is the media's JOB to be sensational, therefore to raise ratings and therefore money from sponsors. You're completely correct in your observations...

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