Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Suuuu--eeeee! What a stinkin' Media Mess!
Can we can just slaughter this Swine Flu pig-of-a-story and settle down to a big plate of ribs, sausage and a double-side of COMMON SENSE?
Media, media, media.....especially LOCAL.....where is the context?
Many more people die each month from many more diseases/disasters/mishaps/accidents than from swine flu! Educate me and show me you're above the fray by a little compare-and-contrast reporting!
Reuters columnist Eric Auchard reports The World Health Organization says REGULAR flu knocks people on their asses by the millions each year and kills tens-of-thousands.
So why no pandemic panic there?
These are the stupid battles I fought for years in newsrooms across the country, small and big!
So many times I was trumped with the "But it's the BIG STORY and if we don't lead with it/make it a big deal, we'll look like idiots...besides it COULD snowball"
To which my response was usually..."So you'd rather be in front of the giant snowball instead of behind it?" Siiiiggghhhhh.
The true numbers tell the true story...More than 1,300 Mexicans have been infected with this swine flu out of a population of 109 million. Do the math. The percentage of the population is something like .00001%. In the US, the number is clearly smaller, considering that we have apopulation of over 306 million and there have been 50-plus (as of this writing) reported cases.
I get that the national/global press needs to keep on top of this. That's their job.
But when the locals try to replicate that effort, it's moronic.
Yes, you MUST cover it and TEASE THE HELL out of it.
No, you MUST NOT overblow it and lead all your newscasts with it.
In closing, I will say this... one GREAT thing about this outbreak is that today we have much better, much FASTER communications and diagnostic capabilities than in decades past so it is sooooo much easier to isolate ground zero and get the word out to contain the outbreak and keep it from becoming something bigger. We also have more vaccines and greater ability to get them to the people than in the past.
Now if there was just an anti-hype vaccine for the media!