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When the news to the public dries up

by: Kelly Phan

Wed Mar 21, 2007 at 01:28:21 AM EDT

As quoted by our very own Carol@SC:

That is what has hit me lately--the sheer incongruity of having the racheting up of the rhetoric along with the clamping down of case reports.  And another thing I do not understand is why there is no "leaking" of information--we used to be privy to certain leaks, like the leaks of the information out of that super secret meeting where they spilled the info on the Karo mutations. The powers that be are more closed mouthed now than I have ever seen them, and so are their underlings.  Why are we not getting any information from any people on the ground.  We are so ham-strung right now and our world of information just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

This is a good question.  I would love to get input from everyone about the puzzling evaporation of news and leaks and feeds from everywhere all at once, in addition to a furious increase in global preparation. 

Let me remind everyone that all of this is pointed out by our very own newshounds who look at this information day in and day out.  If anyone is going to see patterns, it will be the newshounds.  Here's how it started.


Kelly Phan :: When the news to the public dries up
First, it started with this from Theresa42:

The Egyptian gov't... 
...has just got to removing bf articles from their website!
First it was the confirmation -- later retracted -- of the case of a woman from Beheira on 02/26.  There was an announcement on their English bf website (but not on the Arabic version) -- which was later removed from the main index page...
...although it can still be viewed here: http://birdflu.sis.g...

Now, there was an announcement on their Arabic bf website about two suspected cases in Mansoura which is no longer on the index page...
...although it can still be viewed here: http://birdflu.sis.g...

I know it was originally indexed on the main Arabic page 'cause I posted it on the day it came out -- and that's how I found it.  Oddly, it's still on the English index page:

Two cases are suspected bird flu infected in Mansoura http://birdflu.sis.g...

Any significance to these "removals"?  I dunno.  Regarding the latest one -- one of those sus cases from Mansoura is (possibly) named Ibrahim -- like two other confirmed cases from the same area....  ??

And then it went on to this from Pugmom:

I think we have more problems than just removal of articles at their official web sites.  Something is afoot in their press as well.  Remember, back when, when we found "detention" of 17 cases and that happened about twice in a 2 week period. I cannot believe the case load has miraculously dried up.  No, something else has happened and it is not about granting the media freedom of expression.  I am going to start a blog search soon, but after the arrests and imprisonment of bloggers lately, I do not have much hope that will be very fruitful either.

And Carol@SC added this:

When the news to the public dries up, do you think word still gets out to WHO and other organizations and governments on what is really happening? Or do you think there is such a large amount of cover up that everyone is left in the dark? It just seems like all governments are racheting up the talk and taking more actions to prepare for a pandemic. It is like they know something is going on now that is just a little more serious than it has been in the past.

And AnnieB finished the thought with this:

Yes, I believe the sharing of information does continue to take place and does so within diplomatic agreements - which means nothing to the public if so required by the originating country.  Twelve months ago, the testing laboratory in Weybridge, England, had a website listing H5N1 samples they were testing - country of origin, date received, test outcomes etc.  They were forced to close the page through diplomatic pressure.

We are like dogs at the banquet table waiting for the scraps of information.  Think about the fact that there is just enough of a trickle so we don't think there is nothing going on, but we seldom hear about the cases that report positive until all testing etc is completed.  Are we (and the media) being well managed or what?

Get used to it though, it is the way of the world, whether we like it or not.

I agree with our fluwiki ladies that something is afoot.  What do you think?


Is the news being squelched for political reasons?
Yes. There is more going on behind the scenes.
Maybe, but nothing of the tin foil variety.
No. Flu season is slowing down, less to report.


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I want to know what Russia and China are doing right?

They have no human cases of avian flu and no news from either country about this that I can see.

I also got worried over the last few days when "casual" mention of pandemic flu was made in a t.v. local news report and in a couple of business conferences focusing on keeping business running in the event of a pandemic.

In England there has been no real mention of pandemic flu except as a possibility as remote as flying saucers.

When housewifely articles start appearing in newspapers and magazines with titles like "Preparing for a pandemic"
or "housewives against flu" - then I will really worry.

Did this report about the poll of British workers make the daily papers?
Or was it just for business news?


"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

[ Parent ]
my comments
My comments about Russia and China were made very "tongue in cheek".

Anyone who believes there is no bird flu there can buy a bridge I would like to sell them! lol.

"Arrests and imprisionment of bloggers
lately"? This is the first I've heard of this. What's up with this?

United we stand: Divided we fall

Re. Arrest and imprisonment of bloggers
Oh yeah -- in many countries, it is NOT safe to be a blogger these days.

The story that has gotten the most press lately is the case of the Egyptian blogger, Abdel Karim, who has been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment -- 3 years for blogging anti-religious/anti-Islamic things -- and 1 year for insulting the president of Egypt:

Abdel Karim Suleiman, Egyptian Blogger Sentenced

Egyptian Court Denies Blogger's Appeal

The wonderful blogger, sandmonkey, has a lot on Abdel Karim and on the general harassment (including random arrests) that other Egyptian bloggers are experiencing:

More here:

This sort of thing is really scary though:

Egypt: Investigate Torture, Rape of Activist Blogger

Of course, China silences its bloggers regularly:

But, other places like Malaysia don't make a blogger's life particularly easy either:

Proud FAF-er.

[ Parent ]
I ran across that they other day
while looking for some info on egypt blog sites. I just thought that, well it's Egypt. Understand my point? They have the sensorship. Didn't give it a second thought.

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
When you have a steady news
source, and suddenly it dries up, or you see it drying up, that should be a red flag. Case in point: Early 2006, the news media, i.e, t.v. broadcasted China's bird flu problem, reported daily new infections sites, there was radio talk shows on "is bird flu dangerous for humans", ect., and as long as this was made visible/heard, I stayed interested. Looking back, I noticed it slowly started to dry up. Then there was NOTHING on the t.v./radio. What once was attention getting news, left the airwaves, never to be hear of again. Of course, all risks of bird flu to humans was played down heavily.
As I've mentioned before, I suddenly realized one day that I hadn't heard anything about BF and wondered what was up with it. That's how I discovered how serious of a situation this is, and how I found the wiki.
The news media doesn't just dry up a "heavy hitter" like BF, H5N1 for no reason, and it doesn't have anything to do with viewership, rating. If they want rating, they do the story on the seriousness of this, and the threat to humans.
Even if people didn't believe in the pandemic theory, they would still watch. Ratings.
I believe the situation(as a whole), has gotten so serious that TPTB are going out of their way to stop as much of the news they can. That is why we only get driblets. If you have something your trying to cover up, play down, prevent panic,  how do you do it? (Hey, what's that over there?) ;-)

United we stand: Divided we fall

there is an alternative explanation
(at least for the US) and that is that 2 cases a day every day for weeks is no longer 'news'. it's the change in cases that is news. Nothing else will get reported.

Journalists will tell you that being public health spokespeople is not their job, reporting the news is. If a public health spokesperson says something, they will report that. They will not say it in lieu of the PH spokesperson.

That means that the official spokespeople do have a large say in what is, and is not, news and, in turn, what gets reported.

[ Parent ]
Yes. It all goes hand in hand,
If one isn't given something to report, then there isn't anything to report. And that's what we are experiencing with the news now. But it still doesn't answer the question as to "WHY" they are not giving the news to be reported.

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
possible answer...
If I tell you every day to prepare for what might be coming, you will just ignore me after a while.

But, if I then come out and tell you, after a long time, that you have to prepare right now, because it has started happening.  Will you pay attention then and act?

And if you whine and cry about why you weren't told, I can always say "I did tell you to start preparing years ago!"

[ Parent ]
Which is, of course, why we die for freedom of the press ----
So that reporters and news programs can wait patiently for government sources (usually anonymous) to provide them with the information that they then unequestioningly parrott to the public as the 'gods-honest-truth'.  :^& (My lips are sealed.)

ITW(Joel J)
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
- Mark Twain

[ Parent ]
The media is fickle and plays to public attention span
I don't think that in the case you cite (re bf in 2006 in China) it was necessarily govt intervention and stifling of reporting - although that could be some of it. But the media is notorious for playing out stories only so long as they have public interest, and when that interest wanes dropping them (even if the situation itself is still an ongoing crisis)and moving on to some new topic. And the public, especially in America, has a very short attention span....they get "bored" with any given catastrophe that lasts more than a week or two - as if the world and its various crises is simply a soap opera for their entertainment.

Always have a plan B.

[ Parent ]
absolutely...  if it bleeds, it leads...  for a while.  the problem we have is that MSM repeats the same "news" over and over and over..  and the public tunes it out as one more source of noise.  how many tragedies can folks remember seeing a set length of footage run continuously in different outlets, with MSM doing running commentary for hours on the same footage with discussion and speculation, and absolutely no new information.  most people i know don't follow MSM - it's noise, not news; perhaps the soap opera set follow it.

[ Parent ]
Chickens have breasts. Does that help? n/t

ITW(Joel J)
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
- Mark Twain

[ Parent ]
I went to this site, it's a blog. And I found this....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Have you caught up with the good news that our legislators want to change the Press Law? That they've time to consider the needs of journalists indicates that the nation's serious problems have all been solved.

Last few paragraphs:

Sorry, didn't you know press licensing will be reintroduced?  Apparently the Bureau of National Intelligence has reported that certain unnamed subversive overseas elements are seeking to disturb the populace. So to protect the people it's essential only those approved by the government will be allowed to publish. 

I've been told no reasonable person will object to this clause and I should check. Article 666 for definition of 'reasonable person.' "If you don't read the small print that's your fault," said Ministry of Truth spokesman Eric Blair.

He added that anyone suggesting this implies a dilution of democracy and curtailing of press freedom will have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with the relevant authorities. Apparently they'll be visiting selected editors just prior to dawn anytime soon.

And also this article:

hat-tip bgw in MT:

Indonesian Press Law: further articles on freedom of the press

INDONESIA: New Criminal Code 'could limit free speech'

At least 60 new articles would affect freedom of expression, the kinds of information presented by media

The Jakarta Post
Saturday, February 17, 2007

By ID Nugroho and Yemris Fointuna

The draft revised Criminal Code currently being deliberated at the House of Representatives contains articles that limit freedom of expression and target the media, say observers and lawmakers....

The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) says that at least 60 of the new articles added to the revised criminal code could be used to stifle people's freedom. These include articles on agitation directed at the government, airing misleading reports and news, defamation of the government and state institutions, defamation of individual reputations and divulging state secrets.

"A punishment of seven years' imprisonment awaits those who divulge state secrets, (but they don't say) what sort of secrets they are (talking about)," said LBH Pers director Hendrayana.

Hendrayana said the articles could inhibit people's freedom of expression and stifle the right to obtain information through the media.

The article on the defamation of "one's good reputation", for example, states that "a person who verbally damages the integrity or good reputation of another person by accusing him or her of a certain matter with the intention of publicizing it" can be convicted of libel, which carries a sentence of a year in prison or a fine of Rp 7.5 million (US$835).

The article on agitation aimed at the government mandates two years in prison or a Rp 30 million fine for anyone found guilty of insulting the government in a manner that incites public unrest.

"What can the people do if everything is forbidden?" asked Hendrayana.....

I am not like other birds of prey....

I still search everyday, but as you can see....I'm not finding much.
Which is a shame, because we wanted to get a heads up on the situation.  Some may say...."there is no situation".  Sorry.  I don't buy it.

I am not like other birds of prey....

[ Parent ]
Commonground, I have a feeling that it's not just places like Indonesia that's squelched the news.
I sometimes get the feeling that it's happening on the western front as well, to the European nations, Australia, and the US.  News mogules can be intimidated or bought out just as easily as anyone else. 

[ Parent ]
squelching news
You're right. The cover-ups are universal. And not just news moguls. How long did it take to get the news from Bernard Matthews about what was happening down on the farm (if we ever did learn the full story)? There are probably several layers of cover-ups going on.

[ Parent ]
more like several layers of ignorance
A lot of this may not necessarily be intentional.  There is just so much ignorance about "bird flu" that too many don't take it seriously enough to properly report anything.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

[ Parent ]
But KathyinFl, we're talking about seasoned reporters
who have been following this like a dog on a scent, and reporting like crazy, all kinds of details for a certain amount of time, and then pouf! one day, everything dries up.  I think it's not that they don't take it seriously enough.  I think it's that they take it too seriously and it's affecting the local governments and busineses enough so that they were effectively silenced.

All the more pitiful for us since we now have to make educated guesses on what's going on. 

Me, since I can't make educated guesses, all I can do is make tin foil guesses. 

[ Parent ]
commonground, by what percent
would you say you've seen the news articles out of Indo drying up, compared to say 4 months ago?

United we stand: Divided we fall

They are about the same, if not more, for the "culling" stories.  But stories on suspected cases, I would say, from 4 months ago, have dried up about 90%.  Look at just February, we had all these cases, in Community Centers.  What happened to Sadikin, Friendship, Adam the Medan Owner?  I think they had a change in policy.  They sent the people to the community centers instead, sort of weeding them out, only serious cases going to the big hospitals.  The problem at my end was...didn't hear about those in the big hospitals.  And now...we don't hear about the community centers either. 

It seems that now...at least the past few weeks, we hear when they are near death, or have already died.  Sorry to be so blatant, but you can't phrase this softly.

I am not like other birds of prey....

[ Parent ]
That's hight, as I knew it would be.
I guess the real question is: have they slowed reporting human cases out of public panic? Ecomonics? Mass numbers?
All 3?


Is there really nothing to report?

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
I do not believe that there is nothing to report.

I do believe that much is happening that is not being reported.

The problem is . . . figuring out what we are not being told.
Not an easy task.

[ Parent ]
yep, there's always something
to report with this situation. My guess is that TSHHTF and they have a national clampdown on spokesmen, reporters. Mind you it's only a guess. It could be there really isn't anything to report. ;-)

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
Cottontop . . .
You be sure to let me know when you really believe there's nothing worth reporting.  :)

[ Parent ]
Clawdia, I'm
jokeing of course. ;-)
I'm asuming the attitude of TPTB. I know there's something to report, and the fact that they have hushed the news from us really makes me feel uneasy.

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
I think you're right on target, CG
and we anticipated some time ago that if the cases started being treated at the community health center level that we'd likely loose track of cases.  The Indonesian journalists can cultivate connections at the major hospitals, keep track of things there fairly easily.  There is no way, though, that the journalists can keep track of activity at every local community health center (there are just too many of them, in too many small obscure villages). 

We'll still likely hear of most cases that are serious enough to make it to the H5N1 reference hospitals, although that will become more difficult, too, as their number is increased from around 40 to around 100. The journalists just won't be able to keep up.

What we will not have a feel for is the amount of Tamiflu being dispensed for suspect cases at the community level - and there's quite a lot of Tamiflu that's in place at the community health centers now. 

[ Parent ]
ABBFN = Anything But Bird Flu News

Tell the truth

it's a bit of a double-edged sword, that way...  any govts trying to restrict information on flu activity in their country...  just need to have folks monitor the flu boards for news..  as for the unoffical leaks.... tell 5 people 5 slightly different stories, and see which ones turn up where they shouldn't..  perhaps that drives the differences we sometimes see in the news from different sources.

news dries up
My concern is not knowing if H5N1 has mutated, and if it's  spreading from person to person. Will they tell us then?

no; govt will need the extra few days to get themselves squared away. n/t

[ Parent ]
It Isn't TPTB
It's called "editorial fatigue."  Editors in a lot of news outlets ran a bunch of stories in 2006.  Nothing happened, no pandemic yet, but the editors generally have a news vision which is tied into the 24 hour news cycle.  If the story isn't going to happen in the next day, it doesn't see print.  Is Helen Branswell still on the story?  You bet.  But it is her editors who determine what sees the light of day.

The other side of this story is that there is a virtual cottage industry in consultancies which have sprung up to help businesses with continuity planning.  Business is taking the threat very seriously and there is nearly a conference a month you can attend if you have the bucks.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is engaged in a great struggle.--Philo of Alexandria

24 news cycle

  Reminds me of joke.

  "Comment to hit earth and wipe out life tomorrow.
  Stock marked closed early, rebound on entertainment and catering sectors.
  Futures market closed down today - 12 popints."

  Its a day trader's joke.

  If government and business is taking seriusly - who is watching out for the average person?

  Yea there is BF fatigue in some groups. Shame. People do not get food fatigue. IMO, there is so much to figure out,.to do, to practice, to analyze and then do it right.


[ Parent ]
Editorial Fatigue
To paraphrase Shakespeare, "first, kill all the editors." Having said that, I believe that the news slowdown in Indonesia is more related to governmental policies than to editorial choices.  From the stories we have been finding, I believe that the Indonesian population is quite concerned about bird flu and its consequences, and that they would like to hear more news about it.  Newspapers and the media generally respond to what their customers want.  So when we see newspapers reporting the deaths of hundreds of birds, chickens, etc. and not reporting a corresponding amount of human infections, we do get somewhat suspicious.

On the other hand, I think that in America both the public and mainstream media are apathetic about something they consider to be a "nonevent."  In addition, the topic is far too complicated to be condensed into a sixty-second soundbite.  But just wait until the bird flu becomes a pandemic.  The msm will be all over the place with "investigative reporting", they'll have all kinds of experts telling us how serious this issue is, and they will pretend they were sincerely interested in this from day one. 

Where's Walter Cronkite when you need him? 

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."  Thomas Jefferson

[ Parent ]
and as we know, the biggest problem with the "non-event" idea is
by the time it becomes an "event" it will be too late. By not bringing the public up to speed, letting them know exactly what is happening and what the probabilities as well as potential consequences of a pandemic are, the media and tptb are allowing the public to be blindsided.  Millions that might have survived if properly warned and prepared will die.

You are right that bf is too complex for a 60 second sound bite, but a responsible media source should be doing one of their "series" on it, taking the public through a different aspect of the problem every night for a couple of weeks, so that by the end of the series the public is adequately educated to at least make a serious decision about whether to prep or not.

Always have a plan B.

[ Parent ]
Mary, you are so right. n/t

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."  Thomas Jefferson

[ Parent ]
Reports of bird flu cases are groundless -- Al-Shatti
KUWAIT, March 24 (KUNA) -- Dr. Ahmad AL-Shatti, Spokesman for the Joint Committee for Combating the Spread of Bird Flu denied reports of new bird flu cases in the past 24 hours.

In a phone call with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Al-Shatti said that according to ongoing testing, Kuwait is currently clear of any human bird flu cases.


It's also the vigorous denials coming from HCWs that also serve to dampen down any noise that could be heard from 'suspicious sources'--or at the very least, to try to make them look incompetent.

Speaking of news drying up...
I am confused and concerned about the "Breaking News" I saw on CNN yesterday about the sick passengers on the flight to Newark from Hong Kong.  It was all over the news for about 1 hour and then it literally evaporated!  It isn't even mentioned on any of the news sites today (that I can find). 

I am a very typical casual but informed observer of the events we are all monitoring here.  But this story being buried on the heals of the projected economic effect the pandemic would have on the US is just unsettling!  Did anyone else notice that and question the connection?

Since the CDC said it was "seasonal flu"
All the MSM sites just dropped it. There was nothing else they could add or come up with.

What they should have done, IMHO, is add onto the story and bring up the reasons this could have been a breaking news event if it had been HPAI H5N1. Reasons to prep, reasons to be watchful, and reasons to understand how influenza can easily travel these days...

[ Parent ]
tin foil hat time
Remember awhile ago when the goverment said they were going to release something and see if the media picked it up * we now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast*

[ Parent ]
Sure there was!
"There was nothing else they could add or come up with."

What a missed opportunity for the "teachable moment" to tell/remind the public about last year's US State Dept statement that travellers may be stranded abroad during pandemic, and that if they went to the American embassies those cannot give out food water nor medicine; not for pandemic.

Wouldn't that have done intersting things to travel plans, airline stocks, the market in general, calls to politicians, which is why, of course, CNN/FOX haven't mentioned that very useful YOYO point to the public.

[ Parent ]
You know something stinks when:
- the local newspapers in a hotspot country don't have any information in their own language for their own people regarding infected persons in their own hospitals, and a worldwide news source such as reuters/AP breaks the news to the rest of the world.

- the local governments spread calming soothing sounds to their communities while everywhere else, there's high alerts and alarm bells going off about the very same communities.

- the first responders to a suspicious site comes in full regalia, with masks and bunny suits, but then it is downplayed to 'nothing at all'. 

when the news to the public dries up
It does seem very hard to follow what is going on and where, we hear very little now in the way of H5N1 and the fact the H1N1 was milder than predicted seems to have made people think, we never had the H5N1 and the other was a load of rubbish so the lot is discredited.
It is very hard to know what is happening in China and Russia and by the time we did get to know it would be upon us, level 6 for swine flu and level 3 for bird flu, which is what concerns me, and what actual bird flu phase we are at, here in the uk it never really seems to get a mention, like its all gone and done with, i just wnder what bird flu phase or level we are really at.
The swine flu was a good practice, for me it was a wake up call.


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