By KACIE NELSON
It’s an age-old question: can the news media be blamed for exacerbating an issue? Do the means by which an issue is covered or relayed to the public really affect the way the audience perceives an issue?
The answer is absolutely yes.
Numerous times throughout history, the media covered issues in such a way that caused unnecessary, misguided, and even angry reactions from the public.
When it comes to the “crisis” of Ebola in the United States, that is exactly what occurred.
In early October, the media released that the first case of Ebola had arrived in the United States, carried by a Liberian man named Thomas Duncan who had just returned from a trip to West Africa.
Duncan was hospitalized in Texas, where he died eight days after his diagnosis. While he was being treated, two of the nurses caring for him were infected with the disease, however they were treated successfully and declared safe.
When all of this started happening just over a month ago, every news media website, TV station, radio station, you name it, was reporting about it.
It was everywhere.
Naturally, people took to social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, to spread the news and their feelings of terror. This only made the problem seem worse.
Pretty soon, Ebola was “the new plague” and people across the nation were terrified of catching it and ran the other way as soon as someone coughed or sneezed by them!
This fear was only worsened by the media exacerbating the issue and making it seem like Ebola was an airborne virus that one could catch at any moment, when in fact Ebola can only be transmitted through bodily fluids, blood and objects such as needles.
If the media hadn’t blown the Ebola issue way out of proportion and shared more of the facts with people before alerting everyone to take precautions, it wouldn’t have become such a huge issue.
But never fear! It appears the last known case of Ebola in the United States was just cured last night in NYC and our country is safe once more. That is, until the news media find another disease with which to scare everyone.