US: Media drumbeat amplifies coverage of flu outbreak
Posted: April 29th, 2009 - 7:59am
In recent days patients have been walking into St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, clutching newspapers bearing foreboding headlines about swine flu.
“I get people who see the media, and people who are anxious to begin with will use this as an outlet for their anxiety,” said Dr. Joseph Rahimian, an infectious-disease specialist at St. Vincent’s.
Without the news media the public would be dangerously unaware of the swine flu outbreak, but perhaps without saturation coverage on cable news networks and the velocity of information on the Internet, the public would not be so hysterical, medical professionals said.
“It’s a fine line between educating people and frightening them,” said Dr. Marvin J. Tenenbaum, the director of medicine at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island. He has been making the rounds of patients and responding to their concerns about the outbreak, concerns that he said had been amplified by patients’ watching cable news in their hospital beds.