- In an ideal society the media would play a crucial role disseminating vital information during a crisis like coronavirus.
- But the end of objective journalism has made that impossible. Years of transparently biased, anti-Trump coverage has become dangerous.
- Yet the spin doctors of journalism still can’t help but twist coronavirus reporting into campaign propaganda with an eye on November.
The most widely-circulated ostensibly reputable news outlets in the U.S. suggest COVID-19 is the worst threat since the Civil War. The Washington Post issued dire warnings that coronavirus could infect a hundred million, and that 2.2 million Americans could die.
In the face of so potentially great a threat, it’s crucial that Americans get timely information that they can trust from the news media. But two critical failures of American journalism in its current state made that impossible, adding chaos to crisis.
Negativity Bias In Media
One of these is American journalism’s unrepentant commitment to skew reporting toward partisan activism. The other is the persistence of human negativity bias incentivizing newsrooms to bias their coverage toward alarmism. The result is misleading news and a distorted perception of potential threats.
Journalism has a built-in bias toward the negative, because bad things are sudden and newsworthy (a shooting rampage, a war, an epidemic), while good things are gradual and boring (a crime decline, a spreading peace, a longevity rise).
This may have resulted in an exaggerated media response to coronavirus. And a bias toward emphasizing the most sensational and dire projections of its potential impact. This led the media to widely report a 3.4% “death rate” from coronavirus infection.
While emphasizing the catastrophic possibilities of this death rate should millions become infected, journalists frequently overlooked contextualizing information that would have made this 3.4%…