As we have heard time and again during this conference, perspective is a crucial safeguard against the distorting effect of fear. While space and consumer patience may be thin, it is during times of crisis that the media's capacity to provide context becomes most important. This is part of the challenge of risk communication. Editors need to insist on this perspective rather than trying to cut it out if the story still reads, and reporters need to learn how to write about it effectively as well as compellingly. None of these challenges is easy. Institutional reform never is. But I would submit that they are challenges that must be met if the media are to play their constitutional and democratic role in informing the public on matters of significance, in keeping governmental actors and other elites accountable, and-in the end-in managing the problem of fear and risk in times of crisis. Indeed, in my view, the failure to do so is the democratic crisis that is to be most feared.
Richard C. Reuben, Fear and Risk in "Times of Crisis": The Media's Challenge, 69 Mo. L. Rev. 1123 (2004)