The television virus

However hard we tried, we didn’t manage to be European champions in the bird flu stakes. At a time when all other countries were trying to convince the public that they did not have a domestic problem, our government announced that it had located a suspect turkey on the islet of Oinouses. But just a few days later this proved to be a mistake, much to the embarrassment of the government officials involved. Human health is an important matter not to be entrusted to just anyone. Yet the tragedy of the past few days is the realization that not even the health of a turkey can be entrusted to the Greek State. (The good thing is that bird flu does not exist in our country.) Equally tragic is the irresponsible way in which the matter was treated by television channels, which spread panic among the viewing public just to boost ratings. Just as some unscrupulous individuals started dumping dead birds in makeshift ditches once the news of bird flu broke, so producers of evening news bulletins started terrorizing viewers with frightening scenarios about the virus, which has not yet even been found in this country. Principles, logic and objective reporting were all sacrificed to achieve the highest ratings. Public health may not be at risk, but public opinion remains exposed to the virus of sensationalist TV reporting.