Tag Archives: mad cow BSE media coverage

Man bites dog: media doesn’t overhype BSE problem

Frequent crisisblogger readers know how tough I am on today’s media coverage that focuses on fear and outrage to compete for scarce readers and viewers. So, in a man bites dog sort of turn-around, I am sharing this story from Columbia Journalism Review that suggests the media took a fairly nuanced approach to the latest discovery of mad cow disease.

“Mad cow disease,” like “pink slime” by its very name screams for attention. I have a picture in my head of a cow running around, eyes rolling, bumping into trees and fences. I do believe there was some coverage that could qualify as fear mongering, but in general, I think the media did a good job of conveying important reassurance messages from USDA and putting this particular situation in proper perspective.

This is a far cry from the pink slime controversy. But, while the initial reaction of the beef industry to the pink slime and then the BSE problem was to say, Oh no, we are in for it now, it appears that there is minimal damage to the industry from these two situations. Here is a reassuring word sent to the ag industry from a leading weekly newspaper, Capital Press, serving the Western states.

Given the heighten concerns caused by pink slime and the slimey way it was treated in the press, it is an interesting comment to see that such kind of event may have minimal collateral damage. I suspect BPI, the company with shuttered plants, may not feel so good about it, however.