The University of Georgia has cancelled a speech by FrontPageAfrica Newsroom Editor Wade C. L. Williams after several people, including parents, expressed concerns that the speaker could expose the campus to the Ebola virus.
UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication had invited Williams to speak on Oct. 22 for the prestigious McGill Lecture.
FrontPageAfrica reports that Williams, a Liberian journalist, met the news with mixed feelings:
“Despite my disappointment, I’m not angry with the University of Georgia. They felt they could not wear the barrage of criticism that would be directed at them if they allowed a Liberian journalist who covers Ebola on their campus and on a U.S.soil.” She partly blamed the level of misinformation in the U.S. press that led to the University administration being paranoid and canceling what could have been a very educative lecture.
“But the hysteria in the U.S. media about the virus and the possibility of it spreading is counterproductive and must stop,” [s]he said. “I worry that my fellow Liberians and Africans traveling abroad will be treated like pariahs and unfairly discriminated against as the region and word tries to battle this deadly virus.”
Williams is not alone in her criticism of the media-driven hysteria over Ebola. Just this week, Syracuse University rescinded an invitation to participate in a journalism workshop from Michel du Cille, a photojournalist from the Washington Post, because he had been in Liberia over three weeks ago.
But du Cille, unlike Williams, didn’t mince words:
“It’s a disappointment to me,” du Cille said. “I’m pissed off and embarrassed and completely weirded out that a journalism institution that should be seeking out facts and details is basically pandering to hysteria.”