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Journalism

How to get news in the time of coronavirus

I wrote this column for the Tampa Bay Times about news consumption; it subsequently appeared on PolitiFact and Poynter.org. It begins:

It’s seldom been harder to discern what’s true, whom to trust and what’s reliable than in the age of the coronavirus pandemic — nor has solid information ever been as important. 

I sort out fact from fiction every day, and I want to help you do it, too. As editor-in-chief for PolitiFact, I’m monitoring a lot about COVID-19: the latest science on exposure and immunity; projected timetables for social distancing and the development of vaccines; President Donald Trump’s latest news conferences; what the nation’s governors are doing; and what’s happening with jobs, the stock market and the economy. Information is developing and changing, and there’s always something more to look at. 

Humans seek information to feel informed and safe. When there are no new developments, or important questions can’t be answered, it leaves us unsatisfied. So we keep looking for information that isn’t there, and that creates frustration. It happens to both journalists and citizens during ordinary times, but it’s intense during high-stress events such as a pandemic. 

Still, we can be savvy news consumers, and even find calm in how we engage with the news. I’m following three principles that bring order to how I approach my own news seeking. READ MORE

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