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Why we need to be careful with the news and media

Why we need to be careful with the news and media

Posted by: Rakim Stokes
Model United Nations, NMSU
April 30, 2020

Nowadays it seems like we wake up every morning only to be covered by an all-encompassing wave of news and media to a point beyond saturation. It is this flooded state of murky water that can cause an increase of tension and uncertainty that fit the narrative of the source of such media and news. This situation has been painfully apparent during the outbreak of COVID-19 and how the population views this crisis. People are not sure what sources they can trust as every outlet gives a different spin on the same information even in a time when statistics and facts could mean the difference between life and death. Even government officials as high as the president of the United States are some of the worst offenders in using this kind of misinformation for self-gain. This lack of clarity only ends up dividing the populace into their own spheres of belief with some choosing to simply ignore the news all together.

We are living through an unprecedented global crisis that has not been seen for the better part of a century, yet, in our time of greatest need for unity, many people remain uninformed and confused. How is it that we have found ourselves here and is it inevitable that we will reap the outcome of politicizing a crisis?

Most of us are no strangers to the flood of information and opinions that can be absorbed from the internet but, when this information motivates people to act even when it is not in their of self interest or at the risk of causing harm to others, the line between news articles and propaganda begins to blur. This result can be seen in individuals who ignore social distancing or protest for the re-opening of the economy. Such action is only spurred on by conflicting news from sensationalists looking to drive up ratings and clicks and sources downplaying the crisis to push for sooner re-opening to preserve corporate earnings. Even the government can be seen pedaling such tactics through its own news conferences and press releases making unfounded claims regarding testing, and pushing drugs into service that have not been properly vetted. Such behavior from media and politicians will only continue to worsen as we grow closer to the November election when voting itself may be altered due to social distancing. The defunding of the US postal service makes voting by absentee ballots more difficult, and this may also have been politically motivated. So, if people cannot make an impact with their ballot in November, they must influence their government on a local level to ensure that they are well provided for and supported during these times.

It has become more apparent that the handling of this pandemic domestically has hinged on the choices of local government due to a lack of leadership from federal sources. With state governors and mayors holding the fate of their citizens in their hands, it is crucial that citizens remain reserved and take in information from multiple sources before taking action, whether it be volunteer work, safely organizing efforts to influence the actions of local representatives, or simply going to the grocery store. People must search thoroughly for the truth when they are left uncertain by those who only look out for their own best interests.