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Isolation vs. Information: Role of Real News During Pandemic

by Wendy J. Meyeroff

For those of you interested in solid and unbiased insights about issues relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19), I'm keeping my eyes out for such input from non-political sources. Here's one I saw recently.

It was forwarded to online members of a resource called HIFA, Health Information for All. It's lead coordinator, Neil Pakenham-Walsh sent a statement from Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best-selling "Sapiens," when Harari spoke to CNN:

"You can't prevent epidemics through isolation. You can only prevent them with information... ," it starts.

Keep the lights on

Harari continues:

"There are two ways to deal with the pandemic: One way is to give information to people. And if people trust the information they receive, they can change their behaviour.

"The other way is the totalitarian way... . If people don't believe the information they receive, and they don't do it [change behaviour] out of trust, they can be compelled to do it by an omnipresent regime of surveillance.

"This is the dangerous part. I hope we don't go in that direction," he concludes.

It's REAL, not Fake News

It is critical that those of us who provide SOLID, unbiased, health information--whether you're consultants like me or you're with a major news group--must keep digging. Of course that means not only correcting any misleading--let alone absolutely untrue--material.

Rather, I also urge getting out insights providing less-discussed enlightenment. I recently posted some start-up advice specific to seniors and their caregivers. That's been my niche for 20+ years. I'll continue to look for details specific to this population.

Maybe your specialty is food. Can you provide pointers for making canned products tasty and nutritious?

How about exercise and/or lifestyle? How do we stay fit when we're stuck indoors? Not everyone has tons of equipment or even lots of room.

Are you some sort of business reporter? Is small business your niche? There's some word that small biz will be getting loans, maybe even dollars not needing payback. But how 'bout TRULY small businesses? Many of my colleagues are one-person operations. They're webmasters, graphic designers, DJs, writers, and others in communications.

And how about party balloon designers? (I know one lady. All her upcoming events are of course gone.) Seamstresses? Beading designers? get the idea. So where do these truly small enterprises find options that will help them keep going?

What else to provide

As important as this pandemic is, it's important to recognize there's tons of other stuff that needs coverage. There is, for example, still a war going on.

I know I've seen quick soundbites about weather. And celebrity passings. We used to have 2-3 minutes on these things. I'm sure in many cases you don't have personnel to go handle on-site reports, but is it even being planned?

And what ever happened to the presidential campaign? Has Sanders bowed out? How are he and Biden handling things? Is it all social media? Emails? Any videos?

Add New Insights!

I gotta tell you, I tweeted long ago about how I wished some political news shows had us true health reporters least periodically. But no. Even if they were discussing Part D, or Obamacare, it was political reporters and pundits, and academicians trained in politics, history, civics, etc. Yet my tweet (and other messages) noted how much health reporting covers; e.g., economics, education, and my favorite--transportation--to name a few.

I was so thrilled to see a science writer on The 11th Hour last night! Not sure how she arranged it; they needed guests when communications somehow failed with other callers. There should be more of us; if you want a list I'll get it together. Yes, she covered COVID-19 and need for solid info, but there's more we can add.

Hey news editors: grab hold of some of us communications consultants or topic experts

if you need insights beyond this bug.

C'mon people. Covering ONLY coronavirus can be so depressing! Let's give Americans more to inform, educate, but even entertain. My messages have always been "fascinating but factual" as I translate "the complex into the comprehensible."

Everyone stay sharp, stay sensible...and of course stay safe.

Wendy Meyeroff has been a business and consumer health and tech writer and marketing consultant for over 20 years. Her special niche: covering America's aging population from way back when. She's interviewed internationally doctors and nurses; leaders of all size businesses; computer geeks, and regular folks around the USA and beyond just from her desk. (Oh yes: Bush '43 enjoyed her questions, but that was in person.) See more at or email to chat

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