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.