By RYAN GRILLE
A measles outbreak is occurring in Washington state, resulting in Gov. Jay Inslee declaring a state of emergency. The outbreak has occurred largely due to the recent anti-vaccination movement that has been growing in the United States. The outbreak has also spread to Oregon. The news media are covering this outbreak through several lenses, each of which is important to focus on.
First, the news media are covering the anti-vaccine movement and how it has become a modern health crisis. News organizations are issuing reports about the safety of vaccines and why it is important for parents to vaccinate their children. This is an excellent example of what reporters should do. They should keep the public informed with proper factual information in order to keep their community safe. A misinformed public can, and has proven to be, extremely dangerous.
Another element that the news media are focusing on is the political side to the issue. Lawmakers in Washington state are looking to pass a bill making it illegal to refuse to vaccinate a child for personal reasons. The news media are covering the topic while examining the public reaction to these proposals. Reporters should keep the public informed about the politics of their local government.
Unfortunately, not all reporters are handling this situation properly. Less credible news outlets are publishing misinformation both about vaccines and the lawmakers involved. In today’s social media climate, it is not only important for reporters to check their facts and maintain a high standard of ethics, but news media consumers should also be alert about the news they receive. The handling of this measles outbreak could potentially save, or endanger, the lives of many, and it is important to cover the issue thoroughly.