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May 6th, 2009 Megan Brescini | News Stories
 

Swine And Sneeze

Oink, oink: Our awards for local tv coverage of the swine flu.

     
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IMAGE: WW photo illustration

Did you buy loads of hand sanitizer last week? Or hold your breath every time someone coughed on the bus?

As of May 5, there were 21 reported cases of swine flu in Oregon, or about one for every 180,000 Oregonians (Oregon averages 450 deaths a year from good ol’ human flu).

Notwithstanding those long odds of getting swine flu, local TV news whipped up a hysteria-inducing fear fest seemingly aimed at driving up nightly ratings faster than the mercury in your thermometer come July.

Here are WW’s awards—we’ll call them the Oinkies—for coverage in the last week:

Best Case of Fun with Graphics!

On April 30, the first case of swine flu in Multnomah County inspires a great graphic on KATU News that will pop up constantly the rest of the night!

There are people shapes that look like gendered restroom signs, a plane and arrows, crude outlines of Mexico and Oregon, a map, a calendar, even a stethoscope!

Our takeaway: The visual aids add some much-needed excitement to the rather underwhelming particulars of the sick woman who didn’t have to go to the hospital and was recovering normally.

Best Use of Onomatopoeia!

KPTV on April 29 airs a CNN video segment titled “Swine Flu: Anatomy of a Sneeze.”

“All it takes is one good ah-choo…to send well over 40,000 droplets barreling in your direction at about 100,000 miles an hour.”

Our takeaway: At that speed, a single, vapor-dispersing sneeze could circle the globe in 15 minutes and infect everyone!

Best Reason Not to Panic!

On April 28, KGW asked a doctor how swine flu differs from regular flu.

“Well, it’s about the same,” said Dr. Diana Antoniskis, “and the symptoms are very similar as well. Although this outbreak tends to have a little bit more gastrointestinal stuff like nausea and diarrhea along with it.”

“Is that what makes it more serious?” asks the reporter.

Responds the doc: “No, not necessarily. It’s different.”

Our takeaway: We now return you to your regular programming.

 
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