March 27, 2020


The Media Rang the Coronavirus Alarm But No One Listened: Journalists have been telling the public about the coronavirus. (Jacob L. Nelson, 3/27/20, National Interest)

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, journalists at the biggest U.S. news organizations have diligently reported on the many dangers posed by its rapid spread.

Yet even as entire states - like California and New York - shut down, many Americans still don't believe that the coronavirus is as big a deal as the news media has made it out to be. A poll conducted in mid-March found that only 56% of Americans consider the coronavirus a "real threat," and that 38% believe that it has been "blown out of proportion." A more recent poll similarly found that only 57% of U.S. residents see the coronavirus as "the biggest concern facing your family right now."

It's true that there has been a lot of coverage. The New York Times has consistently documented the spread of the virus across the globe, making it clear just how infectious the disease is.

More recently, the Washington Post published a compelling series of visuals demonstrating the importance of "flattening the curve" so that the effect of coronavirus in the U.S. would be less severe.

The coronavirus has been the main story on television news, too, and the social distancing related to the virus has affected the way television news gets produced.

People aren't missing the coverage, either: Online news consumption has gone up drastically since the beginning of March.

Still, a significant portion of the American people are unprepared and uninformed about the pandemic journalists have warned about for months, which is now upon us all. Why is that? As someone who researches the relationship between journalism and the public, I have observed a growing consensus within journalism scholarship around a possible answer: People simply don't trust what they're reading and hearing.

One of the greatest disservices the Left/Right do their acolytes is to make them distrust our institutions.

Posted by at March 27, 2020 8:42 AM