COVERING THE CORONAVIRUS STORY RESPONSIBLY

First, cut back on the use of words like “deadly,” “horrific,” and “catastrophic.”

That’s a pretty good start right there.

News vet Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, who been through this before, has compiled a list of what newsrooms can do to cover the health emergency without resorting to panic-inducing coverage.

Start with the above – a more considered used of adjectives.

Choose the images you use carefully and then explain.

People in facemasks in good video but guess what? – the masks do not help prevent the spread of the virus.

ALWAYS provide context.

Stories that explain ways to prevent being exposed are less scary than stories that do not.

Man-made emergencies, such as nuclear attacks or biological accidents, are far scarier than natural incidents, like a virus.

The CDC said around 45 million people in the U.S. caught the flu last year.

Between 18,000 and 46,000 people died.

There may have been a half-million hospitalizations due to the flu this season.

Did your news stories characterize this year’s flu season as the “deadly flu” season?

Expose the myths.

“The New York Times” ran an interesting story that reported one of the best ways to slow the spread of a virus is to wash your hands a lot and to stop touching your face so much.

In fact, health experts say, we should be telling the public that.

And if you plan your coronavirus coverage with clickbait headlines in mind – you’re doing it wrong and irresponsibly.

More News from Friday, March 6, 2020