12 September 2009

People Suck Saturday

This week's title goes, somewhat generally, to all our local news outlets in the Hampton Roads area.

The story: A local high school student dies of H1N1. Coverage includes touching footage of "fellow students" and local administrators expressing concern over the health of "all the precious children" this flu season. A real heart-breaker and excellent for stirring up a whole new level of WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE fervor about Swine Flu.

Nothing can remove the tragedy of the death of a child. My heart goes out, not only to this family, but to all those families who did lose loved ones to the pandemic. I do feel, however, that the manner in which the story was reported is irresponsible.

The actual back-story: The girl was not currently attending the school when she became ill and died. Why not? Because she was in North Carolina awaiting a lung transplant. To say she died of H1N1 is the same as saying that an HIV/AIDS patient dies of pneumonia. Technically true, but fails to address the actual underlying cause.

She was clearly a very sick young woman and it does no credit to anyone to use her passing as a media tool to stir up Friday night viewership. I am not anti-media, I understand that an open-forum style media is necessary to "civilized" society, but I am anti-media-sensationalism for the sake of ratings. (That said Rachel Maddow is my new favorite girl-crush, but it is not propaganda when it is your viewpoint.)

This news story, or more specifically its presentation, is not only blatant fear mongering for the sake of filling a news hour, but is quite disrespectful to the memory of a young person who was bravely facing numerous challenges to her health and well being.

If I were Keith Olbermann, this might earn my "worst" title.


Kerry said...

That sucks. But it's typical.

They actually could have used that story to talk about being an organ donor...but naaah. That's not scary enough, apparently.

Alexis said...

I agree, this could have been a really great PSA, but let's not do that, I think that getting an entire state spun up about a practically non-existent threat is way better.