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Scoot: Is media to blame for Coronavirus fears?

March 10, 2020 - 12:42 pm

The news media is an easy punching bag for Americans. News of the spreading coronavirus and the impact it is having on every level of our daily lives has caused many Americans to blame the media. But is the media really to blame?

  • FACT: The media is made up of humans and humans are fallible, therefore, perfection is not possible. Mistakes are made – sometimes understandable – many times unacceptable – but if the mistakes are corrected then the media is not attempting to deceive.
  • FACT: The coronavirus has spread to America, and the number of deaths continues to increase.
  • FACT: Common strains of the flu kill many thousands more than the coronavirus.
  • FACT: The media makes news stories as exciting as possible to get the attention of an audience.

When did we become a society that believes everything the media reports?

If conservatives watched CNN or MSNBC – would they believe everything those networks presented? Or – would they use their personal views and what they believe to be their common sense to judge what was being reported?

If liberals were to watch Fox News – would they believe everything reported? Or – would they put the information into perspective that made sense to them?

So why is the media being attacked? First, President Trump downplayed the significance of the spread of the coronavirus in America, and some experts believe that the President’s delusional view of the threat of the disease was directly linked to a frantic attempt to stop the dramatic slide of the stock market. In defense of President Trump – blaming the media was the alternative to actually criticizing Trump.

Another factor in blaming the media for the fears spreading comes from the people who are now afraid of contracting the disease. There is resentment over the interruption in their mental state, which is not concerned about going places.

The audience of the news media has a responsibility to understand that the media will naturally present the more dramatic side of a topic as a way to attracting your attention, but as with the political slant from the cable news networks – the audience should apply their personal common sense to how the news is interpreted.

If we – the audience – have the ability to put things into perspective when it comes to the exaggerated and biased political news we see and hear – then why shouldn’t we be expected to put news of the coronavirus into a proper perspective?

The coronavirus is spreading – the number of deaths is increasing – but the coronavirus is factually not nearly as great a threat to the general public as common strains of the flu. The coronavirus is most threatening to the elderly and those with health problems. The overwhelming majority of deaths in America have occurred at a nursing facility in the Seattle area. The victims were elderly and may have had underlying conditions.

This year – 2020 – marks my 50th year in broadcasting. Over the years I have paid attention to audience reaction to the news – which is essentially governed by the same principles that govern any form of traditional entertainment. Drama, sex, threats to humanity are all elements that are part of any successful entertainment. The goal of the news is to attract an audience so it should be understood that there is a common denominator between news and entertainment.

Any form of the media – news or traditional entertainment – are a reflection of society – the audience. Blaming the media for the reflection you see is like blaming the mirror for the reflection it projects. The media – like the mirror – only reflects the image that is looking into it.

If we fail to use our common sense when we are exposed to news stories - like the coronavirus – how is it fair to blame the media for our reactions?

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