It is not the COVID-19 pandemic that is the single largest disruption of human society in modern history. It is not the COVID-19 pandemic that decimated the economy, crushing businesses large and small. It is not the COVID-19 pandemic that caused us to become prisoners in our homes. It is our collective response, spurred on by media hysterics.
There is little doubt COVID-19 is a terrible and serious crisis, threatening many human lives. Yet, once this emergency passes and there is time to rationally evaluate, we are likely to find emotive pundits and “playing politics” analysis intensified fears and caused an irrational response.
Adding to the irresponsible media, online social platforms spread and amplify the transmission of manufactured hysteria, making it difficult for people to understand and evaluate the actual dangers or take appropriate precautions.
Panic-buying is a perfect example. While not a new phenomenon, it is the press-created fear of the virus, whether justified or not, which is dramatically magnifying panic and dread. So, the scale of it all makes it a new phenomenon.
The purpose of the news media is not to promote hysteria or an agenda. Their role is to inform, whether it is good news or bad. During the COVID-19 crisis, the mainstream news media should be providing facts, not spreading fear.
Yet, the press will get their hands on the most extreme projection models, reporting as if it is the most likely outcome. Once in the public consciousness, politicians are forced to take the most extreme actions, elevating fears even farther.
When President Trump had the audacity to make the statement, “the cure can’t be worse than the disease,” he was accused of being willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable in order to save the economy. Does anyone really believe that?
Good journalism is the dispassionate dissemination of credible and reliable information. It is not influenced by strong emotion and must remain rational and impartial.
Information is valuable and must be presented to the public, especially in these times. The best way of taking care of ourselves and our loved ones is by knowing the facts, not the most extreme spin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are older adults and those who have serious underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, severe obesity, diabetes, and persons who are immunocompromised.
Yet, despite COVID-19 being extremely contagious, based on current information, 25 percent of people who contract the virus will be asymptomatic. Of the remaining, the vast majority of the infected will develop little more than a fever and cough. This is not the apocalypse.
Would it have been better to limit the stay-at-home order and social distancing to those at high-risk? Did Pennsylvania really need to close all schools until further notice? Should we have shut down all non-life-sustaining businesses?
Until the smoke clears, and emotions are no longer running high, we will not be able to reasonably answer these questions. What we can say is that the news media should not be causing panic. Rather, the press needs to be impartially informing the public of most current and accurate information.
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