Columbia News Video Forum

Columbia Experts Assess Media Coverage of Public Health Aspects Surrounding WTC Attacks

In a forum sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism, experts in public health assessed that the media are doing a reasonable job in covering the public-health aspects of September 11 as they discussed the challenges, including informing the public more accurately on bio-terrorism, infectious disease, preparedness and environmental health. The event was held at the Graduate School of Journalism. Allan Rosenfield, dean of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, moderated the discussions and panelists included:

Regina Santella

Regina Santella, professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School, explained that ground zero provides a challenge for those government and private agencies that are taking dust and air samples and doing personal monitoring, as the amount of concrete dust in the wake of the collapses increases the complexities of environmental monitoring. As a result, Santella has been happy with the coverage of exposure both on and off-site.

Real (11:15)Video
Scott Hammer

Scott Hammer, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, discussed how the outbreak of anthrax creates a number of challenges for the press who must report on a situation of which they have little experience, as the last case of inhalation anthrax was recorded twenty years ago. He also noted that the notion of using an infectious agent like anthrax as a weapon is a new phenomenon and, in taking this into account, the media must inform without panicking the public.

Real (11:36)Video
Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and an expert on preparing and monitoring for biological terror attacks, discussed how the role of public health in dealing with bioterrorism is fundamental and the increase in press coverage to date has been reasonable.

Real (9:19)Video

Published: Nov 27, 2001
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002