Thursday 30 April 2009

Sars, Y2K, and terrorist threats, and now swines writing for newspapers

Roger Dickson should know better, after he crafted the worst front page headline of the year in yesterday's Cairns Post.

In a case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good [shocking] story, they use the word 'might' in a dramatic tabloid fashion to scare the shit out of mums in Manunda.

Using 'might' in any press story is always very questionable and very sloppy journalism, but to be used in the heading, is outrageous. Such words are kept in the bottom draw and pulled out when you don't have enough information or simply want to give the impression that something exists.

Using language like this, aims to strike fear in the population, like Sars, Y2K, and terrorist threats, the Old Media have a lot to answer for.

We might have a cyclone next week. Cairns might get answers about the cash for comments. I might subscribe to the Cairns Post (mighty unlikely). We might get a better local newspaper under Andrew Webster. We might win against the Kiwis next season (very unlikely). We might de-amalgamate from Douglas. We might get Kevin Byrne back as Mayor.

The swines at the Post have concocted and stretched this Swine story so far, in an attempt to connect Cairns with the recent outbreak of Swine Flu - that's known to infect NewsLtd reporters. They try to convince us that this Mexican-originated disease in probably arriving in Cairns on the next tilt train.

"Suspected cases in Cairns - State readies for pandemic - Chemists caught in rush," the Post screams, alongside a photo aimed to inject panic.

So if the good old trusty Post is onto something here, we 'might' have a 'pandemic' on our doorstep...
  • pan⋅dem⋅ic 
     /pænˈdɛmɪk/ Pronunciation [pan-dem-ik]
    1. (of a disease) prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.
    2. general; universal: pandemic fear of atomic war.
    3. a pandemic disease.
I've attached the official press release from Queensland Health (below), and you will see were the direct quotes were taken, and subsequently twisted.

I very much doubt that any one-on-one interview was undertaken with anyone in Brisbane. It was mostly lifted from the media release. The story was hastily-written, based solely on the following quote:
  • "Since then we have had reports of a further 12 cases across the state from Cairns to the Gold Coast, including two at Brisbane Airport, and await results of testing."

What was meant by Queensland Health's Dr Young, was that we've got suspected cases all across the State, but not actually meaning there were definite suspected cases in Cairns or the Gold Coast. There is just a way of describing from one end of Queensland to the other, trying to get across the scope of our large geographic area. Can Roger at the Post read and understand basic syntax?

But that didn't stop the Post getting excited when Cairns was mentioned in the release. Oh no. The second paragraph sums up that it really, which was a long shot for our local rag, tying in with the 'MIGHT BE' scary front page headline...

  • Tests for deadly swine flu are being conducted in Cairns after the State Government confirmed there are suspected cases in the Far North.
    But Queensland Health would not say how many people were affected, where they had travelled from, nor where they now resided in the region.
Well the reason Queensland Health would not confirm anything off a sort with the Cairns Post, is because there was nothing to report.

  • More cases of potential swine flu have been reported in Queensland, but so far the state and the nation remain free of the disease, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said.

    “Yesterday we had four possible cases, one at the Gold Coast and three in Brisbane, and all were cleared by tests,” she said. “Since then we have had reports of a further 12 cases across the state from Cairns to the Gold Coast, including two at Brisbane Airport.
Please don't rely on the Cairns Post for your health advice, log onto a real source of information.


S. Northy said...

I remember all this hysteria from the 1970s (1978 or thereabouts), the same ole same ole. I can't recall anyone here dying from it.

Tony Hillier said...

The ComPost is like a pig in a poke. If it's not tossing curlies, along with the rest of the copycat meedya herd (Aporkalypse Now! Shock Horror!!), it's telling outright porkies or making a pig's ear of the news. What'll be the next pigment of their imagination?

Syd Walker said...

The swine is here already. It's name is News Corp.

Molly Paste said...

Apparently now authorities have tested seven people in Cairns for swine flu, becuase they believe they MIGHT have it.

Seems the Post was right all along.

And I don't think the reporter would get to write his own headline. Don't the sub-editor's do that?
Or do you not really understand the workings of the media on which you pontificate?

nocturnal congress said...

"might have", yeah right.

KitchenSlut said...

I didn't know that alleged Jew apologists and swine mixed so easily Syd? Are you kosher on this?

Mike K said...

Look on the bright side... At least we're getting facemask babes instead of bikini babes. The Cairns Post should be congratulated for its progress.

Syd Walker said...

I understand this 'swine flu shot' ad from 1976 is authentic.

I've no idea, BTW, about the extent to which the current scare is well-founded. Keeping an open mind about that. When I see a sneezing man in a sombrero, I'll give him a wide berth for the time being.

KitchenSlut said...

Cairns Post Headline Friday May 1st

"Swine Flu: Syd Walker Has No Idea"

Subheadline: "revealed on cairnsblog"

Sorry couldn't help it, here I was waiting pensively for the ultimate Judgement (capital J) from Syd .... was it really swine or was it Mossad, or is there even any evolutionary difference?

S. Northy said...

Ah, I do remember more people died from the Swine Flu vaccination in the United States, than from the flu itself.

Constance Lloyd said...

An Australian Parliamentary delegation recently visited Mexico.

The name of the head of the delegation? Bob Hogg!

Curiouser and curiouser!

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Tony Hillier gets an 'A' for his alliteration. Fun.
Syd's comment re News Ltd. was also very good.

However, folks, with the amount of tourists we get - I think it may be a good time to start much washing of hands before putting in mouth or rubbing of nose(literally - that's how cold/flu germs proliferate - this was revealed during the SARS virus).

And on top of the GFC this isn't pretty for international tourism for the next couple of months.

All the more reason for Cairns to properly develop other proper industries, rather than being so based on tourism. Or development, for that matter.

Constance Lloyd said...

I agree with Lillian, we do need other proper industries here in Cairns.

For too long we have been a shop with one or two products on offer. And now when the demand for one is drying, we blame it on the GFC, or SARS, or Swine Flu; anything else rather than face the reality of the lack of diversification.

Peoples it called “putting all your eggs in the one basket”. An old adage perhaps, but surely apt.

What we need is a vision for a regional economy, diversified and perhaps a tad experiential, that will give Cairns the opportunity to insulate itself when one sector is hit.

Surely the talent is out there.

John, Kuranda said...

For a reasonably balanced view of the swine flu "crisis" may I suggest that you read this article by Dr Claire Hooker, Senior Lecturer, Medical Humanities, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney

Swine Flu: the dangers of over-reacting

KitchenSlut said...

"All the more reason for Cairns to properly develop other proper industries, rather than being so based on tourism." - Lillian

"Proper industries" Lillian? Such moral piety! Who determines what are 'proper' or 'improper' industries? Please explain?

KitchenSlut said...

P.S. You aren't a Nun are you St Lillian?

Constance Lloyd said...

I thought I would give my few ideas worth in response to KitchenSlut.

For me, proper = sustainable, real, developing skills

We have some of the best agricultural land in the nation. Are their opportunities to make export dollars out of this? Cut flowers? – Darwin exports orchids to Asia, why can’t we? We have innovation on the Tablelands, developing sustainable hardwood timbers. The international language of aviation is English. We have Cairns Airport; we have Mareeba Airport – why not look at a pilot training facility?

I don’t dismiss tourism by any means, but we need to add more to persuade visitors to stay 1 or 2 days longer. Be creative in packages offered – not just the reef and rainforest in 2 days – try linking the Savannahlander (does it still run?) with Undara Lava Tubes. Experience the Tablelands – link in with a heritage trail, waterfall country, Herberton Historic Village, the highest Pub in Queensland (Ravenshoe) etc.

By the way, the Herberton Historic Village is to be congratulated on what it has achieved. Any Cairns resident that has not been there yet, should.

Nuff said.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Thank you Constance Lloyd - exactly where I was going with taking issue with the need to diversify Cairns' industries.
KitchenSlut - 'proper' =
sustainable, profitable, long-term potential.
No - I am not a nun, not last time I looked. But 'St. Lillian of the Knob' has a certain ring about it, KitchenSlut - I'll ponder that one.

Syd Walker said...

An interesting list of web references for folk with inquiring minds and time to spare: Flu 'Oddities'

Syd Walker said...

Rupert the war-mongering shyster was quoted on the news tonight, complaining his newspaper revenues are bombing.

Apparently he's considering asking punters to pay to visit Newa Corp websites. I had to laugh when I heard that.

Perhaps Mike could run a poll to test how much CairnsBlog readers might pay to visit the Cairns Post site?