In the last two days, we have heard of multiple events cancelled, companies enacting travel bans, universities moving to virtual classes, and now it seems everyone is out of toilet paper. It’s all due to coronavirus, or COVID-19. We wanted to explore the media’s role in communicating what is turning out to be a pandemic. Are they helpful? Are they spreading mass panic?
Credible Sources (or Not?)
Here is the deal. If you don’t get information from the media, where will you get it from? Is it your Aunt Karen who signs her Facebook posts, “love Aunt Karen?” She seems like a solid choice. Clearly, she is in touch with the digital world. Maybe it’s your dad, who has Fox News on repeat and carries a gun everywhere he goes, while also keeping one in his nightstand and car center console? He doesn’t seem paranoid at all.
Bias is a Thing
Now, give us a break. We aren’t naive enough to believe every source is created equal. If you want to ensure you are getting accurate, factual, up-to-date information, follow our tips below.
- Diversify your news sources. Turn on NPR on the way to work, and once you’re at the office pull up CNN, CNBC, The New York Times…you get the idea. The point is to read up and read wide. Don’t rely on one source to be your truth teller.
- Become your own fact-checker. Go to cdc.gov and www.who.int. Actually read up on the coronavirus and the rational precautions you should take.
- Talk to a medical professional. They are educated on things that have to do with your health (obviously). For the love of all that is holy, don’t try to become your own “Google Medical Expert.”
- Shut up. Don’t spread the panic. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, maybe just don’t say anything. It’s pretty simple. Don’t be Aunt Karen or your conspiracy theory dad. Stop. Think. Don’t post.
At the end of the day, media is doing what media is supposed to do. They are communicating breaking news, and they are keeping the public informed. We work with journalists every day, and we have a massive amount of respect for what they do. It sure as hell isn’t easy.