Friday, September 11, 2009

Vilsack Urges Media To Get It Right

Vilsack admonishes media for misrepresenting flu virus
Sep 11, 2009 9:32 AM, By Dale Miller, Editor, National Hog Farmer

"I want folks who are in the business of conveying information to understand that behind that message there is a family sitting at a breakfast table wondering how in the hell they are going to pay the bills, when they continually have to sell pork for less than what it costs to produce as they continue to get hammered for something that they had absolutely nothing to do with."

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a press conference Sept. 10 with the intended purpose of explaining the USDA’s preparedness to handle the potential onset H1N1 influenza this fall.

As the 30-minute media briefing drew on, the secretary’s exasperation with the general media’s persistent misrepresentation of the 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus as “swine flu” became apparent.

“As you know, since last spring and the onset of the H1N1 outbreak in humans, USDA has consistently asked those in the media who convey information to consumers and to citizens to be careful about what they call this virus. We would ask, respectfully, that the media give serious consideration to transitioning from what they have been doing — which is to call this (virus) the swine flu, incorrectly, to considering using H1N1 as the appropriate name for this virus.”

“It is not swine flu,” he admonished. “It’s just not correct to call it that. It‘s a novel virus and the most appropriate and correct way to refer to it is 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus This may seem difficult or silly to some people — but it’s not if you’re out there trying to make a living and taking care of your family.” Read More

Since many in the media seem to be more concerned about causing a panic among the public, it should be no surprise that they have been reluctant to use the correct name of the virus. It should be more important to them to be accurate with their information, but sadly it isn’t and it is affecting America’s family hog farmers. Getting the media to change the name they use has been a big job but many gains have been made and it’s been due to the efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers. The work isn’t done however, so remind people, whenever you get the chance, to use the accurate name of H1N1 virus.

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