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What if a pandemic breaks out and nobody covers it? We can only pray.

Posted at 12:44 PM on October 11, 2006 by Mike Edgerly

A big gathering of Minnesota's business and political leaders took on planning for a possible avian flu pandemic at MPR HQ in St.Paul Wednesday. Health and Environment beat reporter Lorna Benson, who has reported several stories on avian flu and its potential impact here, staffed the four hour Minnesota Pandemic Summit. She came back with precious little new to report.

But one surprising theme did come up: media coverage. One of the speakers at the summit, Businesses Continuity Planners Association President Marie Johnson, citing media coverage of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, suggested to the group that 24/7 news coverage of a pandemic might be...uh..well...a bad thing. Let's go to the audio tape.

"I was having dinner with a friend last night and talking about Katrina, and I was in Rita, and...the constant coverage of hurricane stuff on the 24-hour news stations," she said. "What's it going to be like if something happens that affects the whole United States? Maybe they'll be sick, too. We can pray."

For the record, Ms. Johnson sort of laughed at the end of her statement. Perhaps this was just a little humor at the news media's expense. I hope.