HEADLINE ARIZONA, Monday April 27, 2009: “Nations race to contain swine flu” (large bold typeset, front page story), and below (in smaller type) “Don’t panic, Americans told”. Thank you Associated Press® for the uncredited ink about suspected (though unconfirmed) deaths purportedly from influenza down Mexico way. Also on the same page, immediately below the previously mentioned mixed-signal title (badly in need of document management), we find a second fear-mongering article titled: “Flu fear grows in Mexico City” in large bold type, subtitled: “”Public gathering places deserted” – this title and article attributable to a reporter for the Arizona Republic. Do you find these headings rational observations or full-throated cries of anxiety?

For the past week within of the same daily rag, we find several photos of people variously occupied. Vendors selling newspapers on the street, children walking to school, Catholic nuns in full habit walking together; all wearing surgical masks in open air as the common denominator. We have been bombarded with similar large set headlines for the past week, for example “Swine flu hits 3 more in U.S.” — AP, and “Deadly swine-flu outbreak in Mexico stris concern in U.S.” – AZ Republic.

Let’s recap some of the more alarming verbiage: “race“, “contain“, “deadly“, “outbreak“, “hits“, “fear grows” and “panic“, hardly the stuff of a rational skeptical press. Yet, this is what passes these days for public information — titillating garbage designed to sell newspapers and nothing more. Bird cage lining and compost fodder, even before the pages are unfolded and read. It’s embarrassing to pay money for this crap.

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