Media could be used to better effect than inducing fear

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7329.115/a (Published 12 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:115
  1. Tim Kerruish, consultant, emergency medicine (kerruish{at}voyager.co.nz)
  1. Emergency Department, Dunedin Hospital, 201 Great King Street, Private Bag 1921, Dunedin, New Zealand

    EDITOR—Lightfoot et al discussed responses to bioterrorist threats.1 One of the aspects that I found most interesting about the recent anthrax releases in the United States is the apparently disproportionate fear that they have produced among the population, fuelled, I think, by the media coverage they have been given.

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    According to a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 25 September 2001, in 1999, 28 874 people died of firearms injuries, 19 102 of drug related causes, and 19 171 of alcohol related causes. Neither the statistics on drugs deaths nor those on alcohol related deaths include accidents, homicides, or other causes indirectly related to their use. Given that the media are able to wield such massive influence, perhaps in the hoped for “new world order” they can do so in more useful ways.


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