#MuckedUp chat: Seeking the cure for our media's Ebola scaremongering

Oct 30, 2014
#MuckedUp chat: Seeking the cure for our media's Ebola scaremongering

The media has an Ebola problem, and it has very little to do with the real danger of the disease. A recent American poll discovered that members of the public who followed Ebola coverage the most devotedly also regurgitated the most inaccurate information about it; in other words, the more news an individual had consumed about the virus, the less they actually seemed to know. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what we aim to accomplish as members of the Fourth Estate. With magazine covers that scream “Ebola Is Coming” (looking at you, Bloomberg) and TV news graphics that infamously compared Ebola to ISIS (thanks for that one, CNN), much of our news has been characterized by hysteria, hyperbole and hypotheticals. And don’t even get us started with Fox News. Although it wouldn’t be reasonable to lump all Ebola coverage into the category of scaremongering, enough of it has been irresponsible and frequently unhelpful to warrant reflection and reconsideration. While mocking the media’s mishandling of Ebola, comedian and news critic Jon Stewart observed, "It's almost like they're crossing their fingers for an outbreak.” And he had a point. When faced with this mountain of media misconduct, where do we even begin? What guidelines should we be following, to offer more thoughtful and cautious reporting on this deadly disease that has triggered so much panic?


Enter Ebola Deeply, a newly launched website by the same team that brought you the in-depth coverage of Syria Deeply. In an effort to clear up media misinformation on this topic, Ebola Deeply aims to add context to content and clarity to the conversation surrounding the disease and those affected by it. On that note, we are (deeply!) honored to welcome as our next #MuckedUp guest Ebola Deeply’s Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson, author of the Op Ed The Empathy Gap. Also the COO of D8A and Executive Director of Appfrica, a technology company that supports African technologists and entrepreneurs, Bahiyah has worked in international development since 1995, holding events in Brazil, Uganda and Kenya and speaking all over Africa, Europe and North America.

“We want anyone who comes to Ebola Deeply to walk away smarter and better informed about what’s happening in our world,” the site’s mission reads--and we’d like to adopt the very same goal for this next twitterchat. Got a question for Bahiyah or other members of the Ebola Deeply team? Tweet or email it to me by the end of today, and we’ll do our best to incorporate it into tomorrow’s discussion! Help us spread the word (and stop the spread of misinformation) by clicking here, then join our chat by following the #MuckedUp hashtag on Twitter this Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST.

About the author

Writes the @MuckRackDaily & runs #muckedup chat. Creator of #100helpfuldays. I can haz media tips? kirsten@sawhorsemedia.com

Signup for the Muck Rack Daily email

A digest of journalism, written by journalists, delivered to your inbox daily.