Magazine article Foreign Policy

Forget Twitter, Think TV

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Forget Twitter, Think TV

Article excerpt

First, the good news: TV might not be so bad for the planet after all. In his perceptive, engaging, and wide-roaming cover story, "Revolution in a Box," economist Charles Kenny tells us why television, whether or not it turns Western children into obese couch potatoes, just might be the ticket to a better world. Kenny makes a compelling case that the TV revolution, far from being so 20th century, is still coming to hundreds of millions of people around the world with enormous transformative power as yet unmatched by other media. Forget all the Internet hype, he says; it's the advent of the TV era in the world's poorest spots that can help make them better places to live, producing more thoughtful, less violent, and better-educated people. So what if they're watching soap operas?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Best-selling novelist Robin Cook has been imagining an entirely different sort of future for us than Kenny's cheery reality shows and developing-world docudramas. Cook, a medical doctor and author of Outbreak among dozens of big-hit novels that have collectively sold more than 100 million copies, has penned an exclusive--and undeniably unique--tale for FOREIGN POLICY that we're calling "Plague: A Thriller of the Coming Pandemic." Surprisingly, the plague Cook fears most is not swine flu, but a new hybrid killer flu that he thinks might soon hit the globe with the apocalyptic fury of the original Black Death, leaving behind a body count in the millions and cor respondingly massive social and political upheaval. His piece is a gripping read, with twists and turns straight from his novels and a doctor's decades of thinking about our dangerous unpreparedness for an epidemic of such magnitude. And science writer Emily Anthes offers an accompanying essay on why we can't get rid of the world's original Black Death; turns out not only that bubonic plague and its cousins have been quietly classified as "re-emerging diseases" in recent years by world health officials, but also that new threats, like global warming, could fuel the disease in the future. …

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