The Media Chickens Out
Why Recent Reporting on Salmonella is All Wrong ///

NEW YORK — Every year more than one million Americans become sick from salmonella, often from eating chickens, a very dangerous activity. Yet it seems like no one wants to talk about any of that.

To anyone following the news, only one salmonella story has made headlines. “There’s a big salmonella outbreak in the US because people keep kissing chickens,” screamed Vox Media in 34 point font. However, this “big outbreak” caused but 181 salmonella cases, only 0.018% of the caseload.

“The media doesn’t talk about how dangerous eating chicken is even though hundreds of thousands of Americans get sick from eating chickens every year,” said Crooks, a New York City resident who identifies as chicken. “I just don’t understand. If you’re worried about salmonella, why not eat fewer chickens?”

It’s not surprising the mainstream media would choose to exploit stereotypes and profit from tragedy.

A vocal contingent argues this is but the latest example of media bias against chickens. Reporters continue using the phrase “chicken out” even though it perpetuates the stereotype that chickens are cowardly. Often, chickens are portrayed as either dirty and stupid or as victims of factory farming. Many feel media organizations like NPR work to perpetuate existing structures of privilege.

“I have nothing against dogs–I even have dog friends–but the fact is no animal murders more humans than dogs,” said one commenter. “Why does the media hold dogs to different standards?”

To the Ancient Greeks, chickens were symbols of courage. Across the United States, cute adorable chickens are quietly hoping for a day when the media finally reports their experience–love of good food, self-presentation and community, among others.

“Those NPR reporters can publish narrow-minded stereotyping hate, and I’ll still cuddle,” said Crooks. “It’s time to take back the conversation. It’s time to chicken in.” 


Crooks, who identifies as chicken, cuddling with a friend.