“Despicable headline. Journalistic malpractice. Intent to deceive to drive a false narrative. The media has so much to do with what is wrong with our country.”
Since the start of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic here in the U.S., the mainstream media has faced accusations that they have overwhelmingly focused on negative stories about the outbreak instead of balancing them out with positive reports about recoveries, medical and scientific breakthroughs, etc.
One major analysis done on media coverage from American sources versus international sources lent credence to the accusation, as Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board member Cynthia Allen pointed out back in March:
In a recently published working paper, Dartmouth College economics professor Bruce Sacerdote and two fellow researchers, Ranjan Sehgal and Molly Cook, analyzed media coverage during the pandemic. They found that national U.S. publications and networks produced dramatically more negative coverage than international, regional and scientific news sources.
The researchers built a database of news coverage, categorizing by topic more than 9.4 million published stories, and used a social-science technique that classifies language as positive, negative or neutral.
They determined that 87 percent of U.S. media coverage could be classified as negative, compared to 64 percent of news reported in scientific journals and just over half of coverage in international and regional/local media outlets.
Among the top 15 media outlets in the U.S. (by readership/viewership), COVID-19 stories were 25 percentage points more likely to be negative than more general U.S. sources or major media outlets outside the U.S.
Also interesting were the researchers’ findings on school reopenings as it related to negative media coverage, though some of them were inconclusive:
Sacerdote and his colleagues considered the impact of negativity in reporting on school re-openings, too. While they found that counties that rely less on national media sources were more likely to have reopened schools, the researchers were not able to conclude that negative national stories caused fewer schools to reopen.
Sadly, what some have characterized as “panic/fear porn” in the American media on the coronavirus is still taking place to this day, especially as it relates to school reopenings. Case in point, a CNN “report” from Tuesday on a high school in France. The headline reads, “France kept classrooms open ‘at all costs.’ At a school where 20 pupils lost loved ones, some say the price was too high”:
— CNN (@CNN) May 4, 2021
From reading the headline alone, one would think that a coronavirus outbreak at the school caused the deaths of 20 family members.
Except buried in the article was information that contradicted the false narrative the headline tried to craft (bolded emphasis added):
Grace was full of hope as she entered the final stretch of high school. The 16-year-old was two years away from graduating, and she wanted to make her parents proud — especially her father.
“I told him I loved him, and I would always do my best,” Grace said.
This would be the last promise she ever made to her father, as he lay intubated in an ICU unit for Covid-19 patients. He died the next day, on April 9 of last year, at the peak of the first wave in France.
In all, at least 20 students from her high school, Eugene Delacroix, in nearby Drancy, lost a relative to the virus in 2020, according to the town hall.
Nothing suggests these deaths were caused by infections at the school. But CNN has spoken with students at Eugene Delacroix who say they share a common burden: The fear of bringing Covid-19 home and infecting a loved one.
A Twitter user named Eric, who has “health care software architect, biomedical engineering” in his bio, was among the first to notice the discrepancy between the CNN headline and the article and pointed it out:
— Eric (@IAmTheActualET) May 5, 2021
Others on the social media platform responded accordingly:
Incredibly misleading and irresponsible. https://t.co/Rhs9ei3iW2
— AG (@AGHamilton29) May 5, 2021
Once again, @CNN goes with fear & panic porn, leaving the **important** out of headline, knowing ppl don’t go beyond intentionally misleading clickbait headline.
“Nothing suggests these deaths were caused by infections at the school.“ <—— Negates creating this story at all 😡 https://t.co/HHCg8fgayC
— Just a chick 🐥tweeting (@KristineAz) May 5, 2021
Despicable headline. Journalistic malpractice. Intent to deceive to drive a false narrative. The media has so much to do with what is wrong with our country. https://t.co/pzP03LCDgE
— Adam Patterson (@MUPP33) May 5, 2021
Others suggested CNN ripped a page out of the American Federation of Teachers (teachers’ union) playbook:
@rweingarten craving more attention?
— Kristi (@Kristi_Weaver4) May 5, 2021
Why not give Randi the byline?
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) May 5, 2021
In my opinion, either CNN should pull the entire article or make major changes to the headline to not give off the impression that the school openings led to those 20 deaths. But of course, they won’t because CNN has been among the worst offenders in the media when selling fear and creating panic during the pandemic. Plus, CNN is a serial offender for fake news, so why would they bother changing their formula now?
It’s just inexcusable and disgusting. As suggested in one reaction, this is a classic example of pseudo-journalism that “has so much to do with what is wrong with our country.”
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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