Media consumers look at current media climate through doubtful lens

Yulianna Nolasco , Staff Reporter

     As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus hit headlines in late November, the world waited for answers on the severity–and the media pounced on the coverage. 

     With headlines and news updates like “Omicron may be more transmissible” and “Omicron may be immune to vaccine efficacy”, many Americans panicked and the early COVID fear of 2019 settled in again. However, science journals and medical publications were quick to point out the media’s overinflated press and instead concentrated more on the fact that there is not enough research yet to paint a picture of fear. Scientists at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories decried the media’s portrait of the variant as a scary outcome saying there’s “a little too much hype”.

The varying accounts of the virus–which have now been circulating on social media and news outlets everywhere–are alerting Americans more to the negligent tactics of the media, begging the question: does the media help perpetuate fear?

In an age when media bias is becoming more and more outed, many people are already suspicious of what’s in the news. “I trust the news to be biased. I trust myself, as a critical thinker, to identify the bias and view the story through that lens,” said English teacher Mr. Kevin Burgun.

Even if many articles show different sides, media bias often words sentences or headlines using misleading tactics. For example, gatekeeping bias. Gatekeeping bias is when stories are made based on the author’s choice of policy issues. Another example is partisan bias. Partisan Bias is when the author is biased to one political party. Even so, consumers can still rely on their own knowledge and research.

“As everyone knows from being good English students, I make sure I can find information in at least three different places,” Burgun said. “If I can do that, then I feel that I can trust the information. But again, as a critical thinker, I also have to identify the framing techniques of the information the source is using.”