Don’t panic, it’s just H1N1

The media simply can't resist a good panic story, even when there is no panic to be found. On the Media

interviews sociology professor Eric Klinenberg on what happens when the media ask you to talk about the nonexistent widespread panic over H1N1.

Klinenberg says to the reporter, effectively, "There is no panic." Undaunted by the lack of support for his thesis, the reporter places Klinenberg's remarks on the last page of the story, under the subhead Not Enough Panic?

Read the article to learn about the White House press conference where a reporter repeatedly asks whether the flu outbreak is a bioterrorist attack and won't take No for an answer. Or, my favorite, where one news agency sends out a reporter in a mask and has him cough on people to get their reaction. (The reaction was, basically, "What's up with this guy?") Meanwhile, another news crew spots the guy and interviews him. So you have one news crew interviewing what they think is a man on the street, but is actually another reporter trying to create a story. It's so absurd it's almost art.

Comments (12)
  1. Anon says:

    News crews interviewing news crews interviewing news crews!

  2. Kanye says:

    Yo, Swine Flu, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, but Bird Flu was one of the best pandemic flus of all time.  One of the best pandemic flus of all time.

    [Nice. -Raymond]
  3. robert hir says:

    Sounds like the time that Kevin Smith (director of Dogma) was interviwed by the news when he was out with the protestors, protesting the Domga movie..

  4. I want everyone to know that there is now a simple online test you can take to determine if you have swine flu.  Visit

  5. Jeff Tyrrill says:

    From The Onion:

    Klan Rally 70 Percent Undercover Reporters

  6. Worf says:

    Well, apparently there’s canine flu popping up this season as well – H3N8. Humans can’t catch it, but it’s extremely contagious between dogs. Vaccine is available, though.

  7. Merus says:

    The funny thing about swine flu is that is was indeed cause for concern amongst the learned biologists of the world, but the media has only two ways they report on science: not a threat/EVERYBODY PANIC. Swine flu was a potential threat, worth keeping in mind, but wasn’t much more severe than the common cold right now, so it didn’t fit into those two boxes.

    What this tells you is that you are a sucker for using the mainstream media as your only source of news. (Although the risk of being a sucker if you eschew mainstream news for your choice of ideologically compatible blogs is also high.)

    [There’s another axis to science reporting: “Scientists recently discovered that X will kill you/X will extend your life.” Often, the same X gets both treatments (e.g., X = drinking alcohol). -Raymond]
  8. Tanveer Badar says:

    Art is absurd?

  9. GreenReaper says:

    I think The Onion is reading The Old New Thing – a relevant article came out earlier this week:

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