Reg Rhodes: Panic attacks
With another flu season approaching, I can’t help but think back on last year’s H1N1 flu outbreak and the subsequent frenzy generated by the media. News media outlets practically had us in lockdown, bracing us for a “pandemic” – a very scary word, often used by media sources to establish a very unhealthy level of paranoia in the U.S.
Much to the disappointment of news channels, the pork belly pandemic soon became a rather tedious story. The days of having a hawg-slapping good time at the public’s expense were over. As their ratings dropped, the media were once again forced to look elsewhere for the next panic-inducing story.
Another media feeding frenzy, played out in 2007, was the avian -or bird – flu virus (H5N1) “epidemic.” This one swooped into the headlines, while the media had a quacktastic time ruffling some feathers. Millions of innocent, law-abiding chickens were choked in an effort to stave off a supposedly hazardous situation. Initially riding on a wing and a prayer, this breaking news shocker quietly fluttered away. Taking a closer gander at the situation, we later came to realize that the worst effects of the avian bird flu virus were substantially higher prices at the local Chik-fil-A.
Again, this summer, in a solid effort to hatch up some fresh poultry propaganda, the media went on their newest chicken victimizing conquest with their overly dramatic reports of yet another salmonella “outbreak.” A shocked chicken populace hung their heads in shame as their squalid living conditions were exposed to the world. The media seemed to stop just short of sending a lynch mob to hang the Iowa farmer from the nearest tree. Though the farmer was spared, many of the chickens had their heads lopped off for laying bad eggs.
This all makes me wonder how the media will handle the next inevitable alarm-inducing event. Whether or not news outlets choose to handle it in a responsible fashion remains to be seen. I’m assuming they will handle it, once again, in an irresponsible, panic-evoking manner. What will happen when their credibility is shot? Maybe than we’ll begin to rely on sane news broadcasts coming out of Canada.
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