How to navigate the covid-19 infodemic Final Piece.

Featured image Infodemic 5


Are you not sure what news sources to trust? Well, this guide will help you navigate through the covid-19 infodemic. What is an infodemic? An infodemic is where people are given lots of information about the same topic, and fast. It can relate to a pandemic because the information spreads quickly, like a virus can. It is a combination of the words 'information' and 'pandemic/epidemic.' To explain it in more detail, take a look at this statistic.

By December 2020, 31% of people were trying to avoid news about covid-19.

This could mean that people could be confused about the news or may think that the news about covid-19 is all negative. It could show that people need more help navigating the news because they might be puzzled and are not sure what news sources to trust. Want some top tips to make sure you know everything possible about an infodemic? Read on to find some.

1. News Sources

So, how does an infodemic spread misinformation? An infodemic can spread misinformation by a person posting fake news (normally on social media, as many people can read posts) , then people who read it can believe it, sharing it with their friends and family, as they think it is important or interesting. They can also believe it, and also share it with their friends and family. This process can continue, with many different posts, until it has become viral, and this can happen within even a few minutes! With lots of fake news and misinformation spreading, people can become sceptical of which sources to trust.

This can cause problems because it can cause many people to become confused, not knowing what is true. People may decide to avoid reading the news as a result of this. In addition, people can post fake news only to make people frightened or for their own personal benefit.

TOP TIP: Remember when reading a post or article, ask questions such as: Why was this posted? How can I check if this is true? Can I challenge this? Is there any evidence? This can help you evaluate if it is fake news. Make sure to look at trusted sources such as the BBC or The Guardian.

2. Too Much News

Does the news affect people's mental health? The news can affect people's mental health. Want to know why? Well, the link between the news and mental health is that the majority of news is negative (90%) and could make people become unhappy or pessimistic. However, the news can have the opposite effect if it is positive news, and can make people feel cheerful and optimistic. Both could mean that people could change their behaviour as well as their attitude. If people read too much of one news source, they could be deceived as it could contain misinformation.

This can become a problem because it might make people not want to read the news, missing out on important facts. If they are overwhelmed by the news, they can become bewildered. This can be because if they are told too much news, it can be hard for them to process it. In addition, two sources of news concerning the same issue could contradict each other, and people might not know which is true.

TOP TIP: To stop yourself being overwhelmed by news, try to take a break from reading or listening to it before carrying on. Make sure you compare a few trusted sources, so you can identify if something posted on social media or on a website you don't know is fake.

3. Numbers in the News

Have you ever wondered how news sources can use the same number in different ways? News sources can use the same number in different ways by using certain words that suggest something is positive or negative. For example, words like 'already' and 'more' normally suggest the story is positive, but words like 'just' and 'less' usually mean the story is negative. Although, these words can still be used to project a different view.

This can be a problem because it can make people feel negative about the future, not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The news should make the readers feel hopeful, even though the story might be negtive. However, the news shouldn't make people feel too optimistic, especially during the pandemic. This could make them break the lockdown rules.

TOP TIP: To help understand numbers in the news, you should look at trusted sources which present numbers in the news in an understandable way, such as using graphs or charts. These trusted sources shouldn't include vagueness, to help people understand what they write better.

4. Story Shapers

Finally, how can the media shape a story? The media can shape a story in a positive or negative way, by using some of the words that I mentioned previously. By doing this, they can change the readers' views of the topic. For example, look at these two statements.

There are only two more cupcakes left over.

There are two cupcakes left over! This is more than I expected!

In the first statement, the word 'only' makes it sound like there are not many cupcakes left, but statement two uses the word 'more', meaning that the person is happy that there are two cupcakes left over.

Is this always a problem? It may not always be a problem, but sometimes can be. This is because the news only shows what the majority of people want to see - which is negative news. This is an example of supply and demand. On the other hand, it could make people feel negative, affecting their mental health. People should be able to make their own decisions, deciding whether or not an article is positive or negative.

TOP TIP: To help yourself see how the media has shaped your opinion, look out for the words that I mentioned. Along with that, ask yourself questions. Examples could be: Do other people want to see this? How could I tell if the story is positive or negative? and Why has the media shaped the story this way?

Hope this has helped you navigate through the covid-19 infodemic!

Thank you for reading my post.

Comments (3)

  • Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
    01 Apr 2021

    This is a fantastic Final Piece that shows how you have taken a magnifying glass to the media and studied what it is doing and how. Well done! I especially like your attention to the language that is used - your examples will definitely help me stop and question the information presented. Well done for encouraging some healthy scepticism too!

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  • Ericka Shin.jpg EXPERT: Ericka Shin, Fact Checker @ The Economist
    05 Apr 2021

    Fantastic final piece, eager_reflection! #3 is particularly impressive. I notice you mentioned that graphs and charts can help people better understand the importance (or lack thereof!) of numbers in the news. Can you say more about that? How do graphs and charts effectively communicate to people what the numbers are and what they mean?

    Reply to this comment
  • Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg discreet_drum | Upton Cross Primary School
    07 Apr 2021

    I liked your final piece eager_ reflection. It was packed with lots of helpful tips that can help many people, I also liked how you started or used rhetorical questions in each paragraph and then explained them in depth.
    I think graphs and charts effectively communicate to people what the numbers are and what they mean by getting the reader's attention with something that you know they would want to hear more about. For non-scientific audiences, you could use easy-to-understand charts e.g. pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, and tables, but not complex charts
    because it would make it difficult to understand which could make them think and believe the wrong information which could lead to another spread of misinformation. If it’s easy to understand and interesting for all readers, they would actually want to find out more knowledge about the topic and would also keep that information in mind which can help them fight against misinformation and could also teach others as well.

    In conclusion, I think graphs and charts effectively communicate to people what the numbers are and what they mean by getting the reader's attention with something that you know they would want to hear more about, but you shouldn’t use complex charts because it would make it difficult to understand.

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