Zombies are For Children, and Hits

A few more thoughts on the CDC’s zombie ploy

Today’s Disruptive Women in Healthcare features a post applauding the agency’s out-of-the-box “thinking” to get the public’s attention turned to emergency preparedness. (As if that should be necessary, just after the worst radiation disaster in decades, as tornadoes rip through hospitals here in the U.S.)

The approach seems like it might be confusing to people who are uneducated and perhaps can’t distinguish between the probability of a zombie invasion, UFOs and, say, re-emergence of the plague or the complete loss of electricity in North America. It seems careless, even unprofessional. I prefer the CDC be serious, 365/7/24.

The approach is patronizing, besides. I’m a woman who assumes responsibility for her health. Telling stories to gain people’s attention is how we treat children and early adolescents. It’s not for me.

As a blogger and journalist who looks at medical media, I can see that the topic garnered lots of hits. So for the WSJ health blog, the NPR Shots and podcast and (admittedly) for yours truly here at Medical Lessons, the topic has value. (Except that no one would turn to ML for emergency preparedness, and I wouldn’t want them to do so – see disclaimer.)

Maybe the CDC likes getting hits, too. Perhaps the subject of imaginary medical stories is good for the job security of people who run websites at any salary-paying organization. But I don’t think coverage of a health story by a responsible news outlet should be determined by how many people will click on it.

So this isn’t just about the zombies, really.

Just saying –

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