Decreasing Ebola Media Coverage: Relief or Apathy?

Sunnie Yi Ning '18 Contributing Writer

After Dr. Craig Spencer was announced to be Ebola-free and released from the New York City hospital, there has been a noticeably sharp decline in Ebola coverage. Media has shifted its attention away from Ebola to highlight other domestic and foreign policy issues. Google trends indicate that American interest in Ebola has dwindled, despite the fact that the West African Ebola toll has continued to climb.

The United States might have been largely successful its fight against Ebola, but we are far from the end of the international war against the highly contagious virus. In Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the most affected countries, the fatal disease has continued to spread, with Mali recently being placed on high alert due to a new cluster of Ebola infections. In Sierra Leone, as the BBC reported, the only Ebola treatment clinic in the southern part of the country may be shut down. Sierra Leone ranks as the second hardest-hit country. Earlier last week, the World Health Organization announced a total Ebola death toll of over 5,100 since the start of the outbreak. In many Ebola outbreak regions, the disease is hard to control largely because of the lack of available resources to diagnose patients and facilities to properly treat them.

It seems that Ebola is only highlighted in major media sources when it directly affects the United States. The transfer of the late surgeon Dr. Martin Salia to Nebraska clearly demonstrates this.

While it is a relief to know that there might be a viable Ebola vaccine, the minimal attention that the U.S. public and domestic media have paid to Ebola in other countries, reflects widespread apathy and self-interest. It is easy to ignore dire situations in other countries when home is safe, and when other important news becomes dominant, but we cannot give up on the fight against Ebola. It is thus important for the media to highlight worldwide Ebola data and remind the U.S. public that the battle is ongoing.

What is more, the Ebola outbreak reveals many existing problems in our society, such as a renewed form of racism caused by irrational panic.

Ebola is far from being eliminated. While there are still people being infected daily by the virus, it is insensitive of the media and public to withdraw their attention from this critical international crisis.