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The Real Truth About News Stations and Fear

COVID-19 has been a cash cow for major news stations.

Unfortunately, as we sit inside and wait for this nightmare to end, we are at their mercy. We now rely on them for hope, happiness, and more bluntly, good news.

But we haven’t gotten much of that, have we? In fact, it’s seemingly turned into a breeding ground for headline-friendly news that will either result in clicks or impressions. It’s the same cold-blooded, insensitive approach by major news stations we’ve seen following tragedies in the past.

As recently as two months ago, following the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, TMZ infamously broke the news of his gruesome crash before word had even gotten to his family.

And now, with the recent outbreak of COVID-19, we are seeing some of the same feelingless behavior from major news stations, taking advantage of our fear and using it as a way to hoard clicks, impressions, and views. The result? A boatload of misinformation, eye-poppy headlines, and heightened anxiety for a country that already has enough of it. This week, our team isolated some of the most overused and mishandled topics of the outbreak so far.

9/11 Comparisons

“New York City Coronavirus Deaths Now Outnumber 9/11 Ground Zero Toll.” A headline by TIME magazine. As a New Yorker, this one hit harder than the others. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe TIME Magazine genuinely wanted to put the impact of the virus in perspective for New Yorkers, so the importance of social distancing is communicated as clearly as it can be.

But then, I remember that TIME Magazine is a business, just like Apple, Walmart, Sunoco, you name it. They, like all news stations, benefit from their clicks, impressions, and overall engagement. And what better way to draw eyes to your content than by mentioning the single most tragic event in New York history?

Now, can you blame them? Not necessarily, business is business. However, in my opinion, whenever possible, we should steer clear of using figures from other tragedies as a way to draw attention to something entirely different. COVID-19 is not 9/11. They are two different tragedies and should be treated separately as such.


Up is down, left is right.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s unlikely you haven’t heard of hydroxychloroquine by now. The potential “coronavirus cure” sent shockwaves through major and social media after being touted by President Trump as “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine.”

Politics aside, in the midst of a global pandemic, making promises that extraordinary probably isn’t the greatest idea. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s concerning is the mass of conflicting reports following the President’s claim.

USA Today headlined an article, What do you have to lose taking hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus? Potentially your life.

On the other hand, The New York Post headlined an article, “Doctors, Pols urge earlier use of ‘miracle’ coronavirus cocktail — effectively providing us with an entirely different and contrasted angle on the anti-malarial drug.

What is anyone supposed to believe? How will we ever know the truth when you can run a quick Google search and convince yourself of nothing? Yet another example of the way major news outlets use our fear of the virus and its uncertainty against us to power their online presence.

How COVID-19 is Transmitted

At this point, the coronavirus is everywhere.

It’s in your TV remote, your Xbox controller, your steering wheel, and it will fly through the air while you’re walking down the street and strike you dead.

Or, at least that’s what the media would have us believe. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have almost been as many reports of how the virus can be contracted as the number of people infected (not literally).

What better example than our public mandating social distancing policies of at least 6 feet for weeks, only for headlines such as this from the New York Post to read, “The coronavirus spreads at least 13 feet, travels on shoes.”

At this point, I might lock myself in my closet until all of this is over. Either that or major news outlets can start delivering us accurate news that matters, without taking advantage of our fear to horde engagement numbers.

Will that happen? Of course not. But here at The Success Bug, we want you to at least be aware of what’s going on.

What do you think? Are news outlets taking advantage of our fear? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “The Real Truth About News Stations and Fear”

  1. Such a great article. People aren’t realizing the facts. The news outlets focus on our parents and grandparents knowing they turn to them for information, only making them fear for their lives even more. It’s important to spread facts and not fear.

  2. Such a great article. People aren’t realizing the facts. The news outlets focus on our parents and grandparents knowing they turn to them for information, only making them fear for their lives even more. It’s important to spread facts and not fear.


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