Further to yesterday’s post, stats-are-fun superstar Hans Rosling has calculated a coverage-per-death ratio for swine flu and TB. It clearly points to an under-reporting of the boring old pandemics that we’ve grown used to ignoring. But it also begs the question that plagues prevention efforts in health as well as in other areas — terrorism, climate change, conflict. Do we have to wait until we fail to prevent something before it becomes worth covering? How many deaths do we need to justify the media hype?
We need to concede that we might get a more effective response BECAUSE of the media hype. But if the coverage does encourage (or allow) policy-makers to swing into effective action, and tens of thousands of deaths a prevented, analysis such as Roslings will be more problematic than ever. Because you see, despite all the hype, there never were that many deaths after all….
Thanks to Basia for pointing me to the video.