May 05

Thank god it’s not being called the Flack Flu

May 5 - worried pig The world's pig population has to be in full panic. Governments from Mexico to Egypt are ordering mass extermination of the bovine creatures because of their suspected involvement in spreading swine flu. World health officials are trying to intervene, but the machetes are being wielded nonetheless as the blogosphere blissfully tweets away.

Now if I were a pig (and, some have suggested the moniker fits), I would be more upset with the media and less so at the executioners (not that I'd be greeting any gun-totting militiaman with a welcoming squeal, mind you).

The media have really outdone themselves with their incredible 24×7 frenzy over what's now being called the H1N1 flu (and, god, let's hope there isn't some unsuspecting family with that surname).

Despite calls for calm by the White House, we continue to see reporters gleefully extort their viewers, listeners and readers to hunker down and avoid crowded, enclosed areas. Other 'journalists' proudly display maps depicting the hundreds of school closings around the country. And the talk show hosts trot out all sorts of medical history wonks who are only to happy to compare and contrast the global pandemics of 1918-19 and today.

Sure, some people have gotten sick and, sadly, a few have even died. But, the hype is way, way over the top. Worried moms are keeping their kids home, and school superintendents are shuttering their establishments, all while the makers of TamiFlu and Dove soap rack up record sales (hey, somebody has to benefit from a holocaust).

Meanwhile, the poor, little pigs are being rounded up and slaughtered. Where's the Pig Protection Society (PPS) when you really need them? Rutting around in the mud, no doubt. What about the all-powerful Friends of Swine and Whine (FSW) lobby? Probably munching on pigs in a blanket at some swanky Georgetown party.

There's a new, and terrifying, Boer War underway. While I'm genuinely sad to see my four-legged friends being cut down in their prime, I can only breathe a sigh of relief that some lab technician at the Centers for Disease Control didn't decide to call this particular outbreak the Flack Flu. Now, that would take PR industry downsizing to a whole new level.

Apr 30

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.