For the Record

Dean Wright on Ethics, Innovation and Values

Flu outbreak: Walking the line between hyping and helping


dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

There’s nothing like a disease outbreak to highlight the value of the media in alerting and informing the public in the face of an emergency.

There’s also nothing like it to bring out some of our more excessive behavior, essentially shouting “Run for your lives! (but, whatever you do, stay tuned, keep reading the website and don’t forget to buy the paper!).”

An outbreak of a form of influenza, which was known as swine flu before the World Health Organization changed the name, has killed scores in Mexico and infected others in the United States, Canada, Europe and New Zealand. It’s already having an effect on markets and travel plans, in addition to the obvious impact on public health.