Security Wisdom Watch: Swine Flu Edition

The world was on a panic footing again when swine flu spread from Mexico to the U.S. and elsewhere in early May. Some organizations and individuals offered useful guidance. Others spread fear for a few days, and then went away. Here's the scorecard

THUMBS DOWN: Cable news networks. The big players -- CNN, Fox News and MSNBC -- reported the swine flu like the opening scene from Stephen King's "The Stand" or the movie "28 Days Later." Memo for the anchors: Stop yelling at us and just report the facts.

THUMBS UP: The Obama Administration. The White House was quick to react, and did so with the calmness the situation called for.

THUMBS UP: The SANS Institute. The organization has kept pretty good track of swine flu developments with a detailed, matter-of-fact site maintained by Stephen Northcutt, who was also kind enough to do a Saturday podcast interview with CSO's Bill Brenner as the crisis first began to unfold [listen: How to Prepare for a Swine Flu Pandemic].

THUMBS BOTH WAYS: Humorists. Panic surrounding the outbreak was somewhat blunted by a bounty of cartoons, late-night TV jokes and a running commentary on Twitter and Facebook. But if a second, more deadly wave of illness spreads in a few months, the jokes won't seem quite as funny.

THUMBS DOWN: Return to apathy.. It's always a relief when a crisis cools off. The problem is that everyone drops the much-needed emergency planning to go watch "Grey's Anatomy." [Now That the Hype Is Over, Keep Planning]

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