Friday, February 13, 2009

Buffalo Plane Crash - Media Overkill

There hadn't been a plane crash (sorry no video) of a commercial airline in over 2 years. So I suppose we should be understanding while we get saturation coverage of the Buffalo plane crash. But If you wanted to hear other news you are out of luck. There is nothing the media loves more than a nice plane crash with plenty of fatalities. The only thing that beats that is a "miraculous" landing of a flight in the river. For those of us living in New York we can barely get the weather forecast or road reports. We are seeing the same video with the same interviews over and over and over again. And then there is the dramatic stories:

A widow of a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center was among those killed in a plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., late Thursday, her sister told a local newspaper.

"We know she was on that plane and now she's with him," Beverly Eckert’s sister Sue Borque told The Buffalo News.

Eckert's husband, Sean Rooney, was a native of Buffalo, the newspaper said. Eckert was flying to Buffalo for celebrations with relatives marking the 58th birthday of her late husband, the paper said.

MSNBC's headline is misleading: "Plane slams into New York home, killing dozens." It gives the impression that the plane landed in the middle of NYC.

If there hadn't been a plane crash you were heard about whether it was Paris Hilton who led caused the fight between Rihanna and Chris Brown. Or whether the mother of the 8 children was obsessed Angelina Jolie.

What should be the top story is the serious matter of whether vaccines cause autism. You've barely heard about that:
Bitter feuding over a possible link between vaccines and autism won't go away despite a strong rejection of that theory by a special federal court.

Thousands of families were hoping to win compensation and vindication through three test cases presented to the court. They contended that a combination of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine plus other shots triggered autism.

Officials with the U.S. Court of Claims said they sympathized with the families, but there was little if any evidence to support claims of a vaccine-autism link.

The evidence "is weak, contradictory and unpersuasive," concluded Special Master Denise Vowell. "Sadly, the petitioners in this litigation have been the victims of bad science conducted to support litigation rather than to advance medical and scientific understanding" of autism.

Attorneys for the families said an appeal is a distinct possibility. They also noted that the court still must rule on another theory that vaccines once carrying a mercury-containing preservative are to blame.

The head of a consumer group that questions vaccine safety said she still felt there were the possibility of a link.

"I think it is a mistake to conclude that because these few test cases were denied compensation, that it's been decided vaccines don't play any role in regressive autism," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center.

Science years ago concluded there's no connection, but Thursday's rulings in a trio of cases still have far-reaching implications. The move offers reassurance to parents scared about vaccinating their babies because of a small but vocal anti-vaccine movement. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, are on the rise, and last fall a Minnesota baby who hadn't been vaccinated against meningitis died of that disease.

"We need ongoing research into the causes of autism but cannot let unfounded myths keep us from giving our children the proven protection they need against infectious diseases," said Dr. Joseph Heyman, chairman of the American Medical Association.

Back to 24 hours of cable TV plane crash coverage. At least you will learn about the history of plane crashes, icing on plane wings, and watch Google maps view of the house before it got blown to smithereens. Who knows when we'll have the next plane crash.