When does responsible journalism become reckless histrionics?

Untitled My, but the mainstream media do love a crisis. Dismayed, perhaps, by the slow, but steady, trickle of good economic news, the media beast has been anxiously prowling for another fresh crisis upon which to feast. The appropriately named swine flu seems to have provided the much-needed meal.

As soon as the first cases began to break, the media began circling like vultures. Clearly, they sensed a fresh, easy kill (read: ratings).

And, so teams were duly dispatched to every conceivable transportation hub and Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, has suddenly become this month's Chief Moose. Remember him?

Despite assurances from leading government officials such as Mayor Bloomberg and the Governator that all proper measures are being taken and that those who were infected recovered quickly, the media frenzy has only increased. The morning talk shows are devoting the first 15-20 minutes exclusively to the swine flu and freely bandying about the dreaded 'P' word: pandemic. Even historians are being trotted onto talk shows to discuss the 1919 global pandemic that wiped out 20 million people worldwide. Nice.

Clearly bummed that our severe recession is showing definite signs of letting up, the media wolves are licking their lips and sharpening their knives over the swine flu. And, hey, if that peters out, here's hoping the media get a rash of unusually severe tornados or some other freakish act of nature to sate their insatiable appetites.

I'm all for informing the public in a cool, calm and collected manner. But, the swine flu media hype makes some of these so-called 'journalists' look like the real pigs.

One thought on “When does responsible journalism become reckless histrionics?

  1. Why doesn’t the FCC regulate this? Instead of focusing on inappropriate language, why not try to regulate irresponsible coverage? I realize the obstacles in doing so but the FCC could set guidelines and then issue warnings and then fines if broadcasters don’t comply.
    I am a strong advocate of the First Amendment and I generally think the FCC’s actions against what they deem to be inappropriate content is a waste of time and taxpayer money. But broadcasters who incite unnecessary fear through sensationalistic coverage that hypes rumor rather than fact, and those who continuously focus on worst-case scenarios rather than what is likely to happen, should be held accountable.