Saturday, June 20, 2009

Swine Flu: What’s the Big Deal?

As of the writing of this post, H1N1 Swine Flu has killed 87 people in the United States. The only distinguishing feature of the disease from influenza in humans is the fact that it can bypass immunization. 

Stories like the Swine Flu contain immense shock value. Disasters bring in viewers to news programs and thus, media networks are dependent on such disasters for profit.

song-chart-memes-swine-fluWhat separates the swine flu from many other disasters is that Swine Flu does not even reach the level of damage that events like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina lie on. A mere look at statistics and facts on its symptoms reveals that the media has radically blown things out of proportion. Considering that every year, African AIDS and Malaria problems kill exponentially more people than Swine Flu does, and that the Media has left such problems untouched, stating that the media overemphasizes the nature of Swine Flu is not a slippery slope.

The sad truth of the matter is that scary stories sell. Upon hearing of a disaster, people are quick to make a beeline towards the news sources. The media then profits off such a disaster, its constituents pleased with the advertising revenue that they make. The strife and misery of victims makes for a story that attracts viewers.

But what of the swine flu and the extent that the media has blown it out of proportion. The news incites paranoia to attract viewers. Even to the point where we fear for our lives at the slightest cough. We beg our doctors for antibiotics, even when the closest case of swine flu lies hundreds of miles away (not to mention that influenza is a VIRAL illness on which antibiotics have no effect on). By over-emphasizing swine flu, the media gains profit in unethical ways.

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