At the Tampa Bay Times, Stephen Buckley, citing John M. Barry’s research, looks back at how news of the 1918 flue epidemic was covered and reminds us that reporting facts is not being alarmist. Here’s a bit:
Barry quotes another historian who noted that Nebraska newspapers showed a “curious reticence” about the disease. In December, after hundreds of thousands of Americans had died, one paper in that state still urged readers “not to ‘get panicky.’”
In North Carolina, some newspapers would not publish the names of the dead.
One newspaper in Phoenix declined to write about influenza deaths there, or anywhere else. The paper, Barry writes, “was utterly silent, saying nothing about influenza anyplace in the country until the news was such that it could no longer keep silent.”