Shame On The Media

   Hope and fear. That’s the perfect description of the conversations sweeping the country about the proposed Health Care Reform Bill. And the most talked about is a 10-page section of the 1,000-page House Bill that has been blown way out of proportion with false information promoted by the media.

   When Sarah Palin called this “downright evil” and then asserted that the elderly would have to stand in front of a “death panel so (President Obama’s) bureaucrats can decide...whether they are worthy of health care,” the media grabbed hold of the phrase and “Death Panel” become a household word overnight. Television, online, radio and newspapers featured it in headlines, on talk shows and as the lead story on their broadcasts and home pages. Upset people were shown shouting, fighting, along with finger-pointing and sign waving in protest of something that was not even close to being true.

   This is not the first time Sarah Palin has said something stupid, but the problem is the way the media handled it. In their race to not be second in reporting a “story” and to push information that makes people react (to either watch, listen, go online or buy to get more details) which drives up ratings or sales which in turn increases revenue, the media did not report the whole story, and this is wrong. Another case in point, H1N1 (swine) flu. The media pushed this so hard that anyone with a cough was treated like a leper when in actuality the death toll so far worldwide is around 1,154 and during a typical flu season over 20,000 people in just the United States alone die from flu complications.

   Our need for instant access and the power of the media creates a scenario that allows the vocal minority too much exposure and the opportunity to provide false or misleading information which can have devastating effects. The media needs to be less careless and to be held to a higher standard. The old saying of “Don’t kill the messenger” in this case does not apply.

Jeff Mitchell

   
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