Reporting on the ‘Superbug’ Through Different Media: Print, Broadcast, and Online Journalism

The ‘superbug’ break out in Los Angeles has medical and news corporations looking for a cause. Some say it’s a medical reusable device and others say it’s due to a bacteria resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to cure. According to the Huffington Post, Time Magazine, and National Public Radio, it could be a combination of a harmful bacteria and the medical device spreading the bacteria. Looking into the situation I compared an online resource, the Huffington Post, a printed resource, Time Magazine, and a broadcast resource, National Public Radio. The Huffington Post took a more accusatory angle while Time Magazine and National Public radio took similar approaches that spoke to the science behind the bacteria of the ‘superbug.’ With two dead and maybe 100, 179, or 200 (according to different sources) exposed to the ‘superbug’ it is crucial to be properly informed by the press.

The Huffington Post stated two deaths caused by the ‘superbug’ and approximately 179 patients exposed to the ‘superbug’ bacteria. It’s headline read FDA Knew Fatal ‘Superbug’ Could Spread, Yet Didn’t Recommend Fix. In just a short headline, the Huffington Post has put the blame on the government, especially the FDA. The Huffington Post claims the FDA was fully aware of the ‘superbug’ since 2009 but in over five years, hasn’t put any safety regulations in place. This is a prime example of journalism holding the government responsible and informing the general public, however, the FDA was not the only blamed. The article went along to talk about what was potentially causing the spread of this ‘superbug’ and their verdict was reusable medical devices called duodenscopes. These duodenscopes are said to spread the bacteria patient to patient when they are reused. The duodenscopes are created and sold to the United States by Japan, The Huffington Post accused a Japanese company, Olympus Corp, for not enforcing stricter, more sanitary, safety precautions.

Time Magazine and National Public Radio’s stated that two died and the ‘superbug’ may have been a contributing factor. This contrast’s from the Huffington Post because the Post blamed the death solely on the ‘superbug.’ Times Magazine and National Public Radio also talked about seven other patients infected with the ‘superbug’ which the Huffington Post failed to mention. Time Magazine reported “more than 100 exposed to ‘superbug’ in their headline UCLA says more than 100 may have encountered ‘Superbug.’” National Public Radio reported”almost 200 people exposed to the ‘Superbug.’ While the Huffington Post looked for someone to blame Time Magazine and National Public Radio took a more scientific approach. They talked about how the bacteria called ‘superbug’ was very similar to CRE (Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae) which has strains that are resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to treat. Time Magazine and National Public Radio said CRE was transmitted through endoscopes. A duodenscope is a type of endoscope. Here is an instance where an online, broadcast, and print resource all reported the same fact. National Public Radio talked about CRE further and stated CRE can contribute to death in half of seriously infected patients. This is not as relevant as the rest of the story and it may scare the public.

After comparing each of these sites, I would most likely trust Time Magazine. Time Magazine had the most relevant and correct and reoccurring facts when comparing it to other sources. I wondered if this had to do with release dates, but it turns out Time Magazine’s article was released on February 18th, as opposed to Huffington Post’s article and National Public Radio’s broadcast that was released on February 19th. After comparing and contrasting three news sources, it is clear that each media corporation has their own way of attracting readers; the Huffington Post finds a reason for the news event, National Public Radio uses ethos, and Time Magazine uses facts and quality writing.


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