Watch part two

On the Listening Post this week, the H1N1 epidemic goes viral on the world's media and journalists are speaking out in Sierra Leone.

We start our show this week with the worldwide panic that followed the arrival of the H1N1 influenza virus. There have been others - sars and bird flu - but  H1N1 or swine flu as much of the media are calling it, is the latest case study of how an influenza epidemic is covered in the digital age.

So how did the media perform? From reporting what we do know about this type of flu to what we still do not know about it, the media played a crucial role in informing of the threat and protecting the population.

As the blogosphere swung into action with countless blogs, twitters and messages about the spread of the virus, creating a global, digital rumour mill, the mainstream media got their teeth into a story that sold newspapers and boosted TV ratings.

Our report will look at the media's role in this epidemic and whether or not the reporting was on the mark.

Ninety per cent of women in Sierra Leone undergo female circumcision [GALLO/GETTY]
In part two, The Listening Post's Salah Khadr reports on four journalists in Sierra Leone – all of them female – and the price they paid for reporting on female circumcision.

As we have told you before on The Listening Post, Sierra Leone is a tough place to be a reporter. For many in the media, journalistic impartiality is often compromised by the threat of violence and the need for survival.

In February of this year the United Nations helped fund a Sierra Leonean radio station to set up a debate about female circumcision.

It is a traditional practice that is carried out on 90 per cent of women in the east African country. Usually, female circumcision is carried out by secretive women's societies, who are accused of mutilating thousands of young girls.

These societies do not want their members talking about the practice - certainly not to the media. Our report shows the consequences these four brave journalists faced for covering this controversial custom.

In this week's Newsbytes: a Pakistani singer murdered in a suspected honour killing. The Committee to Protect Journalists names its 10 worst countries to blog from. Al-Lybia TV gets shut down in Libya and the controversial video game that got pulled by its own publisher.

Finally, you have heard of the proverbial bull in the china shop – but what happens when it hits the supermarket? Thanks to closed circuit security cameras, one young bull has become an international online star after an unscheduled shopping spree in County Mayo, Ireland. By the way, that is Mayo -as in mayonnaise.

This is the bull's story as told on Irish television. One thing before we roll the tape: no humans were harmed in the making of this film, which is our internet video of the week.

This episode of The Listening Post aired from Friday, May 8, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera