Sunday, October 19, 2014

Trying not to feed the #Ebola hype, but it is incredibly tough #TipJace

Before I went on the air this week with news a Houston area woman had died after visiting Nigeria, I reminded myself that viewers want facts not hype.
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In the report, I was honest and upfront. I thought I explained that we did not know whether this was an Ebola case. (We made the decision to go on the air with the news because investigators were about to be walking around a populated area in hazmat/protective suits and it would surely cause alarm given what has unfolded in Dallas.)

Not three minutes after I was done with my live report, a resident from the area came rushing up to me worried. She had not seen my report but her mother had. Her mother was “freaking out” and very worried about the “new case of Ebola.”

I’m not sure what else I could have said in this report to be more clear. We did not know if the deceased woman had Ebola. She visited an African country but it had not had a case in 21 days. (That’s the longest time it’s believed a person can have the disease without showing strong symptoms that make most people seek medical help.)

As I reported this case on Twitter, I did what I've seen many other journalists do. Be clear in each Tweet. Don't expect people to have read every other Tweet.