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Thursday, October 16, 2014

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Social Media, Broadcast Media, and Ebola

There's not much one can add to this story about Ebola - certainly not me, a medical layman who gathers information from a variety of media. It's a tragedy anywhere, with nothing comparing to the pictures coming from Africa.
"Can we please get back to 'reporting' the news, sans emotion, without news outlets' tabloid, anxiety-driven delivery?"

Unfortunately, now that there are cases within U.S. borders it appears Africa has been put aside to make room for our media to build hysteria.

I was struck by one thing in watching and hearing how broadcasters are reporting this; it's with a false urgency from air talent. Looks and actions emoting potential to wipe out our population appear from everyone. The only rational "hold on" came from Fox News' Sheppard Smith. (Fox News also had Dr. Keith Ablow, who is quoted at TPM with this nonsense: "Obama won't protect Americans from Ebola because 'his affinities' are with Africa, not the U.S. 'He's their leader.'")

Yesterday was an "aha" day for me while listening to reports of a second nurse who treated the now-deceased patient #1 of Ebola in Dallas. This nurse traveled to my turf - Akron, Ohio. Imagine how you're hearing this reported, and magnify the panicked voices tenfold.

This nurse had family members who worked at Kent State University, 20 some miles down the road from me. We had wall-to-wall "coverage" of the "spread of Ebola" in an ever-so-urgent manner as to make the audience think this virus is crawling local streets waiting to jump on its next victim.

I heard many air talent say, "This may not be true, but..."; and I rhetorically asked the TV screen and radio speakers, "Then why are you even bringing it up?"

Take a breath, please. Come to terms with with this fact: There are about 317 million Americans, 2 of which have contracted the virus, both from having worked around the original patient.

Turn your attention to another fact for a demonstration on how the spread of this ebola virus is strikingly similar to how items move across social media - or not.

Everyone who places anything on social media wishes for it to "go viral," depending on however one may define "viral". My definition of "viral" is "an unstoppable spreading," which we have occurring in Africa today with the Ebola virus. How much urgency is American media giving to the slow movement of aid there?

Most all social media entries end up stagnating - seen by few, and noted by far fewer people. That is the correlation we need to draw between 2 nurses contracting this virus and the way it's being reported by media in the U.S.

Ebola has come within the U.S. borders, multiple times so far. In all but two cases it has been checked at the isolation unit of the hospital housing a victim.

As for the two nurses contracting Ebola from contact with the patient, we're not sure of anything other than that experts are compiling timelines for each. (My wife just told me how two schools are being closed in Solon OH, 8 miles from our home. Can we be over-reacting a bit?)

At this stage of the investigation, there is no reason for any air talent on any broadcast media to act in the ways I've witnessed in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. During one press conference from Kent State, the reporters were heard stretching questions, hoping to solicit anything from the person at the podium to induce more panic.

News reporting in Cleveland yesterday was sad. On the network level, words like "epidemic " and "crisis" are being used. These are reasons you haven't seen the word "journalist" above.

Can we please get back to "reporting" the news, sans emotion, without news outlets' tabloid, anxiety-driven delivery?

The spread of Ebola is nothing to joke about, but it is difficult not to find some humor at the style in which our newscasters of the day are treating this story.

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Today's indie introduction is to...
Blues artist Michelle Simpson
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Bad Luck Happens In Threes

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Michelle Simpson's "Bad Luck Happens In Threes" a listen.

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