Big Media ‘Pandemania’ Hides More Important News
Instead of ‘Swine Flu’ how about ‘Hamthrax’? **
For a couple of weeks in late April and early May, American news consumers were fed a near-constant diet of panic-stricken speculation by the US Big Media of an approaching Swine Flu bug that could have killed millions. Yes, it could have, but it didn’t. As tragic as it is that any have died from the H1N1 flu virus, only three Americans, and fewer than 100 people worldwide, have been killed by this flu. Many more die of car accidents, malaria and tuberculosis in a month than have expired from H1N1, yet cars are not banned and extraordinary precautions are not prescribed to save us from the ravages of malaria and TB. For that matter, about 3,000 people die each month of complications from conventional flu in this country.
One moment for a definition of terms: News is a declarative statement that ends in a period: Such-and-such happened to so-and-so at this-or-that place due to these conditions. The old ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how.’ Speculation, on the other hand, ends in a question mark. News is supposed to be what already happened, and the facts thereof. Speculation considers the endless possibilities of something that happened, or might happen in the future. That’s not news; that’s basically gossip. Look at how much of the ‘news’ these days on the cable channels and in the broadcast media ends in a question mark, especially where the H1N1 virus is concerned.
Our if-it-bleeds-it-leads Big Media love this kind of doomsday scare story: they can invite on legions of junk scientists trailing random letters of the alphabet after their names to nod sagely at how awful things might turn out in the various ‘worst case scenarios,’ engage in endless solemn crosstalk between earnestly-doltish anchor-jocks and speed-freak peppy anchorettes designed to make them appear as if they were born with frontal lobes, and suck in those viewers who don’t pay any attention to the world around them unless terrified by Hollywood disaster-movie plots, thereby cranking up ratings for the bottomless pit of ennui that is the cable TV 24/7 news cycle.
But there’s another aspect to this Swine Flu distraction that is little noted by the overpaid glitz-blisters and schlockmeisters who have floated to the top of the American media septic tank.