From Pandemic to Infodemic - How can News Affect Us?

Featured image Infodemic 10

The Burnet Times - Monday 29th March 2021

Joint post by comfortable_chemistry, flowing_strategy and remarkable_knowledge.

The pandemic has caused people to become weary about the news they are exposed to. This is demonstrated as by December 2020, 31% of people were trying to avoid news about COVID-19. This statistic shows that people are hesitant with the information they consume, questioning its credibility.

This implies the majority of people avoiding the news may be unaware and uneducated about the situations about the pandemic. Furthermore, this shows people may go out, not properly informed of the ongoing situations and restrictions currently in place in their country. Ultimately, this will lead to more cases, more hospitalizations, more deaths, resulting in another wave. This shows how even one person not listening to the news and avoiding the stories shown about COVID-19 can cause an entire country of possibly millions to have many cases, deaths and (possibly) another lockdown.

TOP TIPS:

1 ) An infodemic can spread too much information quickly, as social media is rising in popularity for peoples' news sources. Older audiences in certain apps may be more gullible to believing fake news, as they may be new to platforms. This also involves younger audiences such as children who may have got their way onto the platform, getting used to technology.

This poses a possible problem as word could spread, causing panic worldwide. It could cause trouble for worldwide countries and their governments, as for example:

“A secret 100% effective vaccine has been discovered by spies in a secret military base in America!”, people could start to believe that, as it's very easy to edit images making people believe it's real. This could cause people even sneaking into military bases to take the thing, only to find out it's not true and face a long term jail sentence. Risking people's futures, and even costing lives because of fake news. Our top tip is to: ONLY get news from trusted news sources, which many people have looked at before and have been proven to display news stories that are true, and have good reviews from people, and making sure they aren’t fake reviews done by the news company itself. You can also ask a friend, or other people what news source they listen to for their updates on things such as COVID-19, or other worldwide events.

2) What's the link between the news and mental health?

News takes a big toll in affecting one’s mental health as negative news stories can cause you to worry and overthink about the future. This may lead to a variety of mental health issues some of the many being depression and anxiety. Jennifer Hughes, PhD, a psychologist with UT Physicians, says that constantly consuming news right now can greatly increase anxiety in a way that is not helpful to our everyday functioning. Meaning, it could be difficult to concentrate, complete daily tasks and can affect mood which could lead to feelings of depression. Our top tip is to: Try getting more physical exercise to release any of that pent-up anxiety and tension or possibly start a mindful meditation practice to calm the nervous system. If you do choose to read a negative news story, think about what consequences and effects on your mental health you could be facing if you do decide to read it. Overall, I think it would be a wise choice to check what type of news story it is possible by the title to see beforehand if you believe it will affect you.

3)

News sources can easily display numbers differently, easily fooling people to think it's worse or better than the situation actually is. For example: A news story could display in a country of 100,000,000 people: “Over 21,700,000 people vaccinated in 28 days!”, but they could also display “Only 1,650,000 vaccinated in 7 days.” or “Only 21.7% of people vaccinated in 1 month.”, this portrays the situation negatively and positively, and people will look at one, and believe it's true, most people won’t bother looking at any other news sources related to the same topic, which will lead to people having two-sided opinions on the situation, as they are reading two stories that mean the exact same thing, but have different words which can easily change something into a negative/positive mood. For example: People looking at news sources have found out that newspapers, news channels only display plane crashes, which can make people terrified of what happens, and think it will happen again and could cause nationwide or global panic. Yet, they don’t display car crashes, which kill more people than plane crashes do yearly. An opinion from The Guardian newspaper states: “Plane crashes always make the news, but car crashes, which kill far more people, almost never do. Not surprisingly, many people have a fear of flying, but almost no one has a fear of driving. People rank tornadoes (which kill about 50 Americans a year) as a more common cause of death than asthma (which kills more than 4,000 Americans a year), presumably because tornadoes make for better television.” This statement can show one person's decision can impact hundreds, even thousands of others' opinions. And the news stories that are more intense, like The Guardian stated, tornadoes can make better headlines and attract more people, which could incite fear in the public which will eventually spread, making it a bigger problem than it actually needs to be. Our top tip which we call “Always” is to: Always research a topic further before believing it completely, it could be speaking about the same topic as another news story but could be exaggerated and worded differently to change the mood of the story. Always research other people's opinions and points of view on the story. Always think, “Is this news story as big of a deal as another news story?”

4)

The media has great power over shaping a story whether they change it to be portrayed in a good or bad light. The media could possibly exploit their influential platform to shape a news story therefore making people believe that it might be a positive or negative thing because of their influential and big image. This is mostly a negative thing as people need to know the truth about that specific matter meaning people will be more aware and educated.

Try using a trusted news source that you know or might believe is not biased. Therefore, you can make your own opinion about that matter. If you are able to, try comparing different stories about the same subject and see how they portray it in different lights. Then compare that to your own opinion This can show how the media has shaped your perspective.

To summarise, you should always research deeper into something no matter if it's a trusted news source or not. Whether it's live TV, or social media, you should still check if you are beginning to believe the news story, wish to investigate further, or wish to share it with others, as you could create the consequence of the things mentioned in the fake news section. Hearing other people’s perspectives can also help when verifying if something is true if they’ve been properly educated in that matter.

Always be cautious in choosing a news source since it may contain upsetting content that could cause you to worry and have feelings of anxiety which could possibly impact your day.

Thank you for reading our final piece!

Comments (1)

  • tom Tom @ the BNC
    30 Mar 2021

    What an informative edition of The Burnet Times! You've brought in lots of detail and specific headlines and stories to illustrate your points - well done! A lot of newspapers carry a short paragraph at the top of a story to summarise it - how would you summarise this piece in only 50 words or so?

    Reply to this comment

You must be logged in to post a comment