As a seasoned hypochondriac, headlines declaring the imminent death of most of the world from “swine flu” do not make me a happy bunny.
However, I am conflicted: while my inner-hypochondriac says I am definitely going to die, while my inner-journalist says the headlines are simply selling papers and things, let’s be honest, probably aren’t that bad.
The days a journalist gets to write apocalypse-predicting headlines are the days journalists live for. There are stories of editors jumping for joy at the news of a car crash, a fire, and, in this particular case, a global pandemic. Stories like this have given journalists a bad name: reveling in bad news is not, to the average person, a good thing.
But the problem is: bad news sells. Which, quite frankly, is a pretty bad reflection on the average person. Headlines like those from the past few days have sold papers which otherwise wouldn’t have sold.
And that’s why I’m reserving judgment on the whole swine flu issue. Bad headlines = good sales but do they = the most balanced truth? Probably not.
I did have a slight spike of worry with the announcement a two-year-old had died in the States but common sense prevailed: the death was in Texas. My limited grasp of geography tells me that’s next door to Mexico (isn’t that why they all get so grumpy about illegal immigrants down there?!). So far, so not global.
Indeed, my inner-journalist – and cynic – is rather hoping the raised newspaper sales (and, therefore, profits) may lead to an abandonment of the hiring freeze which most places have imposed (obviously, with no more deaths. I may be cynical, but I’m not a bitch).
Either way, there’s not a lot I can do. For now, I’ll allow my inner-hypochondriac to read everything possible about my impending doom from swine flu, and I’ll allow my inner-journalist to rationalise.