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Reporters: Do You Really Know What Anthrax Is?

Reporters: Do You Really Know What Anthrax Is?

Reporters should be hitting the books to research anthrax and other types of possible weapons terrorists can use against populations.
So said FCC Chairman Michael Powell, speaking during a panel discussion of case studies in emergency planning and coordination between local media and government.
“Editorial context matters enormously,” in media coverage of disasters, said Powell. “I hope reporters are studying what anthrax is – not just reporting what they think they hear. Reporters should be studying the kinds of threats” that could occur.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Susan Neely says the agency is “working to get appropriate context to the public – for any disaster. Since 9/11 none of us knows what could be a potential terrorist attack.”
Yet is the public thinking this way? Two Washington television station personalities spoke of receiving hate e-mails from viewers when coverage was interrupted for recent tornado warnings and an interstate truck fire.
Chief Meteorologist of WUSA(TV) in Washington Topper Shutt said the station is doing its job when it interrupts programming for this type of coverage, yet he worries the public is so saturated by media coverage it’s hard to convey to the audience that a threat is real.