(May 12) Threats loom for the country’s food supply, but neither the media nor politicians seem up to the task of leading, warned television news anchor Ted Koppel.

Koppel, former anchor of the ABC News television show “Nightline,” spoke May 7 at a session kicking off the Power of Five convention.

The problem with the media and politicians is they focus more on profit making or fundraising and less on leading, he said.

“We are focusing less on what we think you need to know and what you ought to know and focusing more on what you want to know,” Koppel said.

The CBS news show “60 Minutes” in 1968 bucked the trend of news programming, he said, by making a profit. That changed everything. Before, news divisions were resigned to smaller budgets and enjoyed less pressure to contribute to the bottom line. They could deliver news they thought the public needed.

The success of “60 Minutes” begat other news programs that were directed to copy its success in turning a profit. That means news decisions are geared less to what the public ought to know and more toward material that is appealing to the most people.

“What you get from them is an echo of what you want,” Koppel said.

Similar pressures to make money have transformed politics, he added.

The threat of avian flu is an area where the vacuum of leadership is noticeable, he said. It will take months for the first vaccines to arrive, he said. Most people will never benefit from a vaccination. Simple remedies, such as wearing face masks, also likely will fall short because Indonesian manu-facturers will not be able to keep up, he said.

That leaves an even simpler remedy: stay home, he said. The problem is, no one has several weeks’ worth or multiple months’ worth of groceries and supplies to remain inside away from those who might deliver the virus to them. If households started now accumulating provisions, each would soon have enough without causing problems. If everyone waits to the last minute, panic will set in.