(NewsBreakDaily.com) – The coronavirus epidemic is in full swing and we’re all looking for the latest information. Where do we get it from? The media, of course! There’s only one problem. The mainstream media (MSM) isn’t interested in giving you accurate, up-to-date information. Its product is sensationalism and hysteria, and the goal isn’t to inform and educate. It’s to get you to spend more time consuming their content and drive up the value of the advertising space they sell.
Picking What Sells
Media outlets don’t have the time or space to cover every story, so they choose the ones that grab our attention and make us consume their output. If it’s a story that’s going to run for a while, and keep you coming back for the latest updates — like the novel coronavirus — so much the better. The best way of doing that is to keep you alarmed.
On one level this is just a cynical marketing technique, but it can also be dangerous. What happens when the media starts talking about health issues? These are often complicated, and there can be a wide range of scientific opinions. A responsible media would make sure it covered all the different opinions – but usually, it just focuses on the alarming aspects that make for compelling headlines.
Media Sensationalism at Its Finest
Take vaping as an example. The US media is almost completely hostile to vaping, claiming it’s at least as dangerous as smoking, and they can always produce experts to make that argument. The trouble is there are a lot of other experts who say something very different. For example, Britain’s public health agency says that a smoker who switches to vaping cuts out at least 95% of the risk, and in the UK smokers are being encouraged to switch.
In another example, stories about the dangers of drinking while pregnant have scared some women into having abortions. Heavy drinking during pregnancy is a bad idea, but an occasional drink won’t have the same effects. You won’t see that in the media though, so women are seeing alarmist stories, believing they’ve already harmed their baby, then requesting abortions.
Now we have a global coronavirus crisis, and the media is full of coverage. Unlike vaping there’s little good news, except the fact that they’re working toward a vaccine and treatments, but there are shades of bad – and the media are reliably finding the worst ones. Even worse, people are spreading misinformation on various social media sites and fueling the fire.
Panic buying is a real problem right now, and it’s totally unnecessary, but the media are making it worse. They’re focusing on empty shelves, not on manufacturers and stores saying there’s plenty of food and toilet paper if people stop bulk-buying and hoarding it.
Over the last week, the US and other countries have introduced increasingly draconian restrictions to fight the epidemic. Now some economists are worried that these restrictions could do more damage than the virus itself. The problem is, governments are being pushed into “doing something” by public fear – and that fear is being whipped up by the media.
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