Mass hysteria, odds given as facts, headlines that don’t match the content. At the Daily Mail they do anything to sell more copies.
“Swine flu: one in eight forced to take time off sick as pandemic spreads“ squeals the Hypochondria Tribune a.k.a. Daily Mail today.
As Armageddon creeps in, the paper informs you, “the vast number of people off work could leave many businesses struggling to run as normal and cripple public services and transport over the summer”.
But hold on a minute. If this pandemic is so bad, why is the same paper plastered with “boob-job bikini”, “Michael Jackson’s leg” and “Pamela Anderson’s Playboy catalogue”? And also, I don’t know anyone affected by swine flu. You probably don’t either and nor does your neighbour. So where does this “one in eight” thing come from?
That’s where the puzzled reader decides to delve into the article in order to learn more. Yet the picture that emerges depicts a totally different story and, above all, different verbal constructions.
Because if the headline makes it sound like it’s already happening, the piece by Daniel Martin states that “Almost one in eight workers will have to take time off sick with swine flu in the next few weeks”, and that “chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson is expected to announce that 30 per cent of the population is likely to be infected during this first wave of the pandemic”. Will. Expected. Likely.
This morning the BBC reports that the number of people contacting their GP over swine flu-related fears “has jumped almost 50% in the last week” – basically, mass hysteria in its pure form.
As the Daily Mail enjoys a circulation of roughly 2.4 million and a readership of up to 6 million, could it just be that their recent headline “A SORE THROAT- 48 HOURS LATER CHLOE WAS DEAD” may have something to do with the ensuing panic?