Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Enough, Already !

I like my job. I am proud of my profession, and I'm never ashamed to tell people what I do for a living.

And then, there are times I feel we've really blown it.

Coverage of the swine flu has been awful. We've stopped informing people and have started scaring them. It is not our finest hour.

Yes, the latest information is presented in a rational fashion here at WNEP.com.

The cable networks, with all that time to fill, are engaging in speculation and they're not being responsible.

I have the perfect gift for some broadcast network reporters-- the ones who toss around words like "epidemic" and "pandemic." That gift is a dictionary. They apparently don't know the meaning of the words they use. Swine flu cases number in the hundreds. Reason for concern? Yes. Reason for panic? No.

This is a small outbreak. Nothing more. If you feel sick, stay home. If you feel really, really sick. See the doctor. There are drugs that can treat the illness.

How do I know we've frightened people needlessly? Hang around the newsroom for a while. Read the e-mail from an angry parent. She's upset her daughter went on a field trip to the airport. We all know airports are the breeding ground for every disease known to man. Listen to the phone call from the man afraid to leave his home. Stores can't keep enough hand sanitizer in stock. A simple handshake is viewed as a potentially lethal act.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Be rational. Think. Take reasonable precautions, and we'll all get through this.

You also might want to turn off the television for a while.