Last week, while working, I overheard a co-worker claim “Ebola is proven to be 100% fatal”. This infuriated me. I wasn’t mad at him for saying it, and I wasn’t even mad at the gross misinterpretation and hyperbole falling out of his dumb face. What bothered me most, is the fact that he is not the only one who believes this.
Ebola is a deadly, horrible disease. Nothing I’m about to say is to soften the impact of the disease itself. However, an untreated rattlesnake bite can also be a serious, deadly situation.
Before I get into the “meat” of what I hope to say, I’d like to just throw some numbers out there:
316.1 million – Number of people currently alive in the United States, right now, according to US Census.
17 – Confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States
0.0000000054% – Your chances of getting the Ebola Virus
4 – Number of deaths as a result of Ebola in the United States
600,000 – Number of deaths in the United States per year as a result of heart disease, a partially preventable disease
126,000 – Number of accidental deaths each year in the US, again, many of which could have been prevented
40,000 – Number of suicides in the US last year
What bothers me most about the Ebola “epidemic” is the news coverage. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, and am seeking a Master’s as we speak, and nothing had disgusted me more than the recently news coverage centered around Ebola. I’ve taken many courses in journalistic ethics, and while nothing is listed specifically about overblowing certain stories, I am appalled that some of these networks are more or less inciting panic with their coverage. I’m also reasonably proficient in Media Law, so I don’t want to be libelous in discussing the networks in question, although I will say the one I am most displeased with rhythms with “Pee Ten Ten”.
Recently, I went back to my hometown to visit friends. One of my best friends, Mike, who I’ve mentioned before on this blog, has a father who has been ever present in my life since I was young. Al is also what you would consider “catastrophically Republican.” I mentioned my hatred of CNN, which he enthusiastically approved of, but question why I had it on in the first place. You see, Haley is attending school to become a physician’s assistant, so the prospect of a full-blown health-related chaotic event intrigues her (but this is the same chick who watches sports injuries on YouTube because she finds it interesting). Anyway, suffice to say CNN is on a lot when she has TV time at the apartment. I hate it.
So I listed to Allen why I hated this stupid network so much, citing their current coverage of the Ebola “outbreak” and their laughable coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane a few months ago. I accused them of misinforming viewers, inciting a panic, and a one-track, tunnel vision approach to news coverage, amongst other things. Another great friend of mine, Nate (fantasy football Nate) was listening to this conversation unfold, after I mentioned Ebola doesn’t spread through the air, like the flu virus for example, he chimed in, “What?! I’ve been freaked out all this time because I thought you could get Ebola through the air.” Keep in mind, Nate has a college degree and is one of the more intelligent people I know. He’s not easily fooled. I could reasonably ascertain that Nate’s knowledge of Ebola is from network news.
The Center for Disease control has recently stepped in and claimed to have things under control, although this actually disturbs me a fair deal as I’ve not once seen a movie about zombies where the scientists initially claim “to have everything under control.” I digress. Anyway, the CDC has stepped in, providing facts and insights about Ebola to kind of quell this brief state of chaos this wonderful country currently finds itself in. Thank God for them. I can not fathom how “Pee Ten Ten” executives sleep at night knowing they are contributing to a panic rather than reporting the actual news. Statistically, one person is murdered every day in Chicago. Every day. H.H. Holmes was one of the most horrific serial killers history, is rumored to have murdered 200 people. If you don’t have a calculator handy, that 50 times as many people have been killed by Ebola. Did you even know who this guy was until now? Two years ago, Adam Lanza stormed into an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 kids and 6 adults in 11 minutes. Can anyone name a single victim of that attack by name?
Get your priorities straight, major news networks. Don’t forget the journalistic responsibility and moral duty you have to society.