01/09/2020 at 10:55 #5947
Hi all, I’d like to know more about how media outlets behaved during this crisis.
I deeply believe that the exposure and consumption of information during situations like epidemic outbreaks may have positive or negative effect, possibly triggering behavioural changes, altering risk perception, and even affecting the fight of the disease. If possible, during a lockdown, the journalist’s role is even more vital.
For instance, in India, a lot of journalists are facing legal action over their coverage of this pandemic. And these complaints have fueled concerns among media experts that India’s laws are being used to interfere with press freedom.
What about in your country?
28/09/2020 at 11:54 #6006Dino GalinovicParticipant2038 PointsPro 89er
great topic and issue. I was thinking about writing about Croatia, but instead I put this issue in the context of the EU, and what I have been following, and witnessing for the past few months. A pressing problem with modern-day, online media is the spread of misinformation – this has been much talked about in political spheres but has also been a prevalent issue in healthcare regarding sentiment towards vaccination. The spread of misinformation on SARS-CoV-2 has been no different – theories have been floating around that the virus was engineered in a lab as a bioterrorism agent, or that the symptoms are actually caused by the 5G mobile network. In addition, thousands of listings on Amazon promoting fake COVID-19 cures have been reported, and the prices of some sanitizers and facemasks have increased by over 2000%, despite in many cases not being fit for purpose.
Another challenge in the social media age has been avoiding stigma. Early in the COVID-19 outbreak, before the disease or the virus were officially named, many outlets referred to the virus as ‘Wuhan virus’ or similar, with this hashtag trending on Twitter. Unfortunately, this wording has a tendency to stigmatize individuals from that city, and also builds an association with those of a certain ethnicity, in some cases stoking fear and xenophobia.
Building stigma is incredibly bad for outbreak control – it can drive individuals to hide illness in order to avoid discrimination, it can prevent people from seeking healthcare and it can discourage people from seeking healthy behaviors, all of which aids viral spread. The WHO has stressed this standpoint, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stating in several press conferences: “This is the time for science, not rumors. This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.”
However, it is important that trusted media sources don’t just ignore misinformation but attempt to counter it. This can be done by thinking about who their audience might trust, bringing in credible experts, showing empathy with those affected, using appropriate language, and thoroughly and carefully explaining terminology, for example, what does a ‘community case’ mean? One example of this is the WHO ‘myth buster’ section, which addresses some misbeliefs about COVID-19. In addition to reporting the story, journalists can offer practical information to audiences – or ‘news you can use’ – for example relevant local telephone numbers for healthcare services or advice on handwashing. These smaller, practical steps from trusted and up-to-date sources could help inform the public on the advice coming from broader governing bodies that they may otherwise not hear.
Looking more broadly, many outlets have a far larger audience than our specialist platform, and to me the potential impact of media reporting on public health activities, and also the feelings of fear and concern in the public, seems absolutely huge. Despite the many challenges this fast-moving outbreak has thrown up, the media have a vital obligation to responsibly report the facts, and to communicate the health and travel advice that is coming from governing bodies. With so many getting their information from these sources, it could really make a difference.
02/10/2020 at 08:37 #6013
Thank you for your comment, it is indeed an important point. I’ve read an article claiming that at least 800 people may have died around the world because of coronavirus-related misinformation in just the first months of the pandemic. Furthermore, the hospitals’ overcrowding could have been avoided, because fake news made people harm themselves following dangerous myths.
I think that governments had their responsibility too in communicating panic (few, luckly) or way too much calm to their citizens over the emergency.
05/10/2020 at 16:38 #6017Leah BakoulisParticipant185 PointsNewcomer
This is such an interesting question. It makes me think of that saying (not sure of the original author) that goes, “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job [as a journalist] to quote them both. It’s your job to look out the window.” There is no doubt that journalists have an obligation to report the truth; but the pandemic and various governments responses confuses this. For example, in the United States, President Trump is responsible for widespread misinformation and confusion about the severity of the pandemic. Similarly, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been hostile towards journalists who seek greater transparency of government data. It seems that Mexican and American journalists are quick to correct their respective leaders in their coverage of him and the pandemic and refer to the advice of health experts instead. Journalists must walk a line between reporting on their governments’ actions and also sharing current health and safety information with the people.
13/10/2020 at 13:55 #6030
I didn’t know that sentence before, and I couldn’t agree more! If all the journalists were really pursuing the “Truth” and not just what’s more convenient, we would live in a better world.
It may be a matter of level of media politicization, and of course of understanding what it is more appealing for the audience.
13/11/2021 at 10:08 #6673mchv AdamsParticipant58 PointsNewcomer
This pandemic was very difficult for all of us to survive. I was very panic when it all started. News were making us depressed too. To calm my self down. I started a online business about cheap pelle pelle jacket. When I got busy in my business. My anxiety issues were better somehow. I started to feel positive. I hope this pandemic go away from this Earth.
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