In the media panic, false and hasty information circulates, and unfortunately the media turns into a space filled with free promoters, for profit purposes, of misleading news about interventions to combat Covid-19.
Written by: Saleh Masharqa
The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic produced what could be called the “media panic” due to the death toll and number of cases on the screens and in every short message. Coronavirus came first, as the news became completely about it, while aspects of life came in seventh or ninth place. The pandemic has hit all forms of news from videos, to writing, to guest speakers, as well as all types of opinion journalism. In a professional sense, this is a good response to the cause of the hour and developments; but, for how long?
As we are now over 40 days in this crisis, a new media sociology was produced, with the newsrooms surrendering to the dominance of Covid-19 and ignoring all other aspects of life. We seem to have forgotten that one day we will be able to return to our normal lives. This is a depressing compliance that we will all pay for.
The dominance of the media panic quickly produced a press that is completely loyal to the state, its apparatus, companies, and all those who dominate. This happened in most of the countries, as journalists were immediately recruited as if they were at war, and they were suddenly patriotic towards officials. I can’t say how safe the situation is here, but I think there are some exaggerations; officials were being worshipped and all they did was carry out their regular duties and responsibilities.
In Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, social media suddenly fell into a strange patriotic state. In more than one country, the videos have gone from laughing at the state, to children performing military salutes to the army and police patrols, as well as people posting pictures of hawks and eagles onto their profiles. Loving the one’s national army with a balance is something that we are used to, but it shouldn’t be one day you love them and the other you don’t. I think the reservoir of our feelings should be more balanced.
In the media panic, false and hasty information circulates, and unfortunately the media turns into a space filled with free promoters, for profit purposes, of misleading news about interventions to combat Covid-19. They did not acquire official certifications that meet health specifications and standards, did not register in the ministries of jurisdiction, and did not pass through the system to be approved by the government, rather the information suddenly appeared on the screen and became known as Palestinian creativity. Isn’t this not misleading news? Did we not all learn during college that merging the news and advertisements is a moral violation?
In reporting on Covid-19 and from the severity of our situation, we forget all the tolerance that we have built. This leads to hate speech towards Covid-19 patients, as this disease has become a fatal stigma that has opened the door to hatred and defamation. The offenders forget that the Covid-19 cell may be incubated inside their bodies and that they may later show symptoms. In the media panic, we may destroy what we have built in regard to people’s privacy in the news; Detailed information about people’s deaths, lives, illnesses, place of residence as well as the names of their children and their families should be dealt with very carefully. We are in a time of populist communication that may injure people, stigmatize places, and spoil the positive flow of information that turns the media to panic and filled with dread.
In the media panic newsroom, there is no place for any press outside the crisis. Sports or art are no longer reported on as there is no other context of information outside the life cycle of Covid-19. The broadcasters and journalists are all under quarantine in their studios. I don’t know what the result will be, but I think that this is enough. There are not any reports or interviews that address the prospects of post-Covid-19. It’s as if there is a muzzle on our press, our thoughts, our senses and motives; but it won’t last forever. We journalists are not prophets of change, but we are also forbidden to be slaves of quarantine and sterilization nor silenced while society panics. Are there no solutions that the media can provide us with? Is there not any positive media outside the idea of washing your hands for twenty seconds? This is a task that I think many of us can contribute to by opening the way to new ideas. The moment of return to our normal lives, in a deliberate and suitable manner for all, is coming sooner or later. To prepare for this day, it is our aim to ease into this through reducing live interviews on Covid-19, where guests wear face masks, as well as preparing news without mentioning sterilizers and so on… isn’t that right?
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.