I read this article today from Meatingplace.com regarding the use of "H1N1 flu" in the media. I find it interesting that once the negativity hits the press box it is extremely hard to shake it. Not only is this important for the pork sector but it is also important for all of Agriculture to be up front and get the positives out there immediately and correct any misinformation (if that is possible?).
copied from meatingplace.com:
A scan of headlines — including those from news organizations that participated in teleconferences Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other USDA officials held yesterday to implore the media not to call the H1N1 virus "swine flu" — do not reflect much change of heart by the mainstream media.
A look at headlines on news Web sites this morning turned up these:
* A Washington Post story was headlined, "Swine Flu Vaccine Works with One Shot." In its nineteenth paragraph, the story adds "The new virus, also known as H1N1…"
* Similarly, the New York Times headed its story "One Vaccine Shot Seen as Protective for Swine Flu." It refers in its first paragraph to "the new H1N1 swine flu vaccine."
* Time.com, a partnership between Time magazine and CNN, headlined a story this morning, "Pork, Stigmatized by Swine Flu, Gets a Government Bailout" — a reference to the $30 million pork purchase USDA announced last week. A headline on the site yesterday fared better: "Early Data Show H1N1 Vaccine Is Highly Effective."
On yesterday's media teleconference, a CNN correspondent countered that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses "swine flu" as a reference on its Web site because that's what people are searching for and that's what more people are familiar with.
"To get the information out, it is sometimes unavoidable to also include that in a story. So, I'm not sure how we can get around that," the reporter said.
One headline on the CDC Web site reads "2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You." A Washington Post item linking to the CDC Web site reads: "Centers for Disease Control: Swine Flu and You."
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan disagreed that it would be problematic for the media to drop the inaccurate name tag.
"There may be some bridging you have to do … but I think that most of the American public has heard 'H1N1.' We have seen it written in your articles. We have heard it on the radio," she said. "So I don't think, unless there is massive amnesia out there, that people won't pick up on what you are trying to convey if you switch to the more appropriate nomenclature."