Are the Media Directing the Right Way?

Regarding the recent SARS outbreak in China and then to the world, I am very happy to see the lift of the ban in media. From the begining of April, the public awareness of SARS has been greatly improved with the term “atypical pnuemonia” repeatedly shown in TV, radio, newspaper, magzine and websites. Note: In China, the virus is called “atypical pnuemonia” (AP), not SARS.

Good to see the media coverage

Chinese media, especially the Internet portal like Sina, Sohu and Netease, are actually very smart and very sensitive to breaking news – just like any news website in any country, hit rate is always the first priority for them. After offical news of SARS was release from designated offical news source, which is a signal for the unlift of the ban of this topic, they are rushing at the fastest speed to cover this topic. For example, Sina has created special report for SARS (Chinese site) with about 20 piece of news every day. For example, there are 21 piece of news on SARS on April 12 and 19 on April 13.

News aimed to release the panic

Here are some sample news headlines from the most popular web site in the last two days. (Chinese sites)

No SARS case found in Helongjiang province 20030412

First SARS patient in Beijing Bascially Recovered (20030412 18:43)

National Tour Administration: Tour lines to Singopore, Malaysia and Thailand paused (20030412 10:58)

There is no SARS in Fujian. Take it Easy in May 1 Holiday (20030411 22:43)

Among the news report, I found this one interesting: Experts Explained SARS Prevention Knowledges, Citizens Took Off Faical Masks Immediately (Chinese site).

According to the “expert”, people should not wear facial masks. Facial masks are only needed when 1) If you go to hosptial 2) If you are infected by SARS 3) If you are the doctor 4) If SARS patients is near you. He also added that wearing a facial masks will do harm for the health. There are at least three reasons:

  1. Increase anxiecity of yourself.
  2. Cause panic in the people around you
  3. Cause inconvience of your respiration

To make sure the readers understand how well the doctor’s job was done, the reporter even added “before the doctors continued, the person who consulted the doctor took off her facial mask immediately”

I begin to worry again that when the meida are directing people to relax and don’t panic, will it help to control SARS? Especially when the experts are asking people to take off facial masks just to release the panic, will SARS situation be better?

Overall situation is moving positively

The media only report the positive sides of the situation. It is good to certain extend. What really made me feel safer is to see the solid work to control SARS is being done.

Lots of companies are disinfecting their working places. Taxi drivers, airlines, hotels and all public places have joined the disinfection movement. I believe it will be much effective way to control SARS.

Only after we see more and more solid actions like this, we will feel safer.

5 thoughts on “Are the Media Directing the Right Way?

  1. i tried to read the article about no sars in Fujian but i can’t read chinese characters. any suggestions?

  2. I am so disappointed that the local government and health authorities continue to mislead the public. Today I noted (here in S’hai) only 6 people wearing masks but none of them wearing a protective SURGICAL mask. Do you anybody have any idea to persuade people to wear masks (and surgical masks)? I real want to do something. If the govenment is reluctant to fight SARS in a proper way, we must do something to fight. Please let me know your comments.

  3. Mainlander, I am worrying about the same thing. It seems the media is directing people to the wrong way. The newspapers are convinincing people that it is very safe – even ask people to take off masks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *