Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

What ought to be news

I just finished doing an interview for the Counterspin radio program, which will be on tomorrow I'm told, about the media frenzy over swine flu. What troubles me the most about this, if I haven't made it clear already, is the false perspective it created. There are a lot of dangers in this world, that are indeed likely to strike you down before your time -- and would have remained far more likely to get you than any influenza ever will be, even if we really do get THE BIG ONE any time soon.

But you don't see the nightly news leading off every night with five minutes on the obesity epidemic, or the 425,000 Americans killed every year by tobacco, or the 7 year gap in life expectancy between African American and white men, or the immense burden of disease and disability associated with poverty, or the kids dying by the tens of thousands every day around the world from hunger and dirty water and malaria -- real holocausts, here and everywhere, that already are happening, right now. If we had indeed had a raging global pandemic of killer flu, yes that would have been big news. But the mere possibility, a concern that it might happen? That's news once, but it doesn't continue to be the biggest news on earth for two weeks when it hasn't actually happened.

So that's why I'm still pissed off. If they had to talk about it so damn much, they could at least have put it in perspective, use it as an occasion to teach us some things we need to hear. But instead it was all about the horror, the horror. And it's not just the corporate media that's to blame -- this was a web frenzy as well, and more so on the left than the right. How can we straighten them out?

1 comment:

Bix said...

Hi there,
I happened upon one of your comments on Daily Kos. Just wanted to say that the point you're making (your second paragraph here is a good example) is an important one. Thanks for the refocus.