From the senior editor
Do you still wear a mask when grocery shopping? Would you go to the theater without a mask? What about going out to dinner or getting on a plane?
If your answer is no, how much of your decision in any of these scenarios was based on articles or columns you read from traditional news organizations that downplayed the risk of long Covid or were built around the premise that three years into the pandemic it’s time to move on?
I don’t mean to be reductive, because there are plenty of journalists who have highlighted the dangers of Covid — as well as other ways to minimize its spread. But, as Kendra Pierre-Louis points out in her first piece for Nieman Reports, “outlets like The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and NPR, to name just a few, have amplified voices and arguments that helped create a narrative that not only pathologizes those who remain cautious about the disease, but also fails to adequately convey the risks associated with Covid such that many people are unwittingly taking on potentially lifelong risks.”
In the piece, Kendra argues that much of the media frames Covid stories from an ableist perspective, leaving those who are elderly, disabled, or have comorbidities as afterthoughts as opposed to valuable members of our society deserving of life. “What this looks like in practice is a very individualistic approach to public health,” she writes. “If you are at low risk, live your life with only a minimal consideration for those you might be putting at risk. Sure, put on a mask when visiting your grandparents, but don’t worry about someone else’s grandparent when you ride transit without a mask.”
We hope you’ll take the time to read Kendra’s piece and write us back with your thoughts. We’d love to know your perspective on the successes and failures of Covid coverage.
Until next time,