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COVID-19 Conspiracies Are Turobocharged Through Conservative Media – Vanity Fair

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As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe, so, too, have a myriad conspiracy theories about its origin and general misinformation about its severity and how to prevent its spread. This “infodemic,” as the World Health Organization has labeled it, has been fueled in part by conservative media and right-wing social media users. A peer-reviewed survey by the Harvard Kennedy School published this week found a correlation between consumers of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative news sources and coronavirus “conspiracy theories including believing that some in the CDC were exaggerating the seriousness of the virus to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump.”

Fox News and Trump himself amplified many of these misguided COVID-19 beliefs. Sean Hannity hosted a supposed medical expert in early March who insisted “this virus should be compared to the flu. Because at worst, at worst, worst-case scenario it could be the flu,” while the president said “treat this like you treat the flu” in late February. (During the early weeks of the U.S. outbreak, CNN, MSNBC, and CBS News aired segments of their own likening coronavirus to the seasonal flu or, at worst, claiming it was less serious.) That same month, Limbaugh, the top right-wing radio host, took this line of downplaying a step further, saying, “I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” The Harvard study shed light on how widespread this idea has become, as 38% of respondents believe that both COVID-19 and the flu are “as likely as the other to result in death.” Tucker Carlson, who vies with Hannity as the top-rated cable-news host on any given night, speculated that “this is not a naturally occurring virus, that it was somehow created by the Chinese government,” giving credence to debunked theories that the coronavirus is a lab-hatched bioweapon during a Fox News segment in early February. As for the belief that the coronavirus was created to hurt Trump, both Hannity, who accused the media of trying to scare “the living hell out of people” and “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax” early last month, and the president, who called the virus the Democrats and media’s “new hoax” in late February, have made this assertion to their massive respective audiences.

Once highly influential conservative hosts have peddled misinformation out to millions, the wide use of social media during the pandemic makes it nearly impossible to slow its spread. Using artificial intelligence to track the posting habits of right-leaning Twitter accounts over the past three months, Graphika, a social-network-analysis company, published a report this week that found “conservative groups have a larger total presence than liberal groups in the disinformation map, and the combined volume of activity from conservative groups is 27%, compared with 8% from left-leaning groups. This indicates not only that there are more right-wing accounts, but these accounts are also more prolifically producing content than their left-wing counterparts.” Perhaps the most disturbing instance of this disinformation came via proponents of QAnon, as Graphika found a significant overlap between social media users pushing the conspiracy theory alongside coronavirus myths. “Habitual sharers of health misinformation increased their share of voice in coronavirus conversations in February. Of the accounts that exist in both [the coronavirus discussion and health misinformation] networks, 66% sit within the U.S. Right-Wing clusters.”

Meanwhile, Democrats who participated in the Harvard study were more likely than their Republican counterparts “to know that the coronavirus is more lethal than the flu” and to eschew theories claiming the “Chinese government created the virus as a bioweapon.” Alternatively, poll respondents who looked to mainstream outlets like the New York Times and NBC News expressed “accurate information about the disease’s lethality and…beliefs about protection from infection.” Indeed, the authors found that access to mainstream news outlets acted as one antidote to this “infodemic,” especially since many top outlets like the Washington Post and the Times dropped their paywalls for coronavirus-related stories. “Exposure to mainstream print was positively associated with holding more accurate beliefs about prevention of infection,” they wrote. “[E]xposure to sources such as the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal was positively associated with accurately believing that regular hand washing and avoiding contact with symptomatic people prevent infection.”

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— The 12 Most Insane Moments From Trump’s National Emergency Presser
— How a QAnon Coronavirus Conspiracy About Oprah Went Viral
— From the Archive: Inside the Week of Hurricane Katrina, Revealing the Foolishness, Fear, and Politics That Turned a Natural Disaster Into a Man-Made Catastrophe

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Changes being made to Saskatchewan print media as focus shifts online – Global News

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Both the Leader-Post and The Star Phoenix will not be printing a Monday copy of the paper starting on June 22nd.

The media outlets will move to a digital-only edition and will produce the printed edition Tuesday through Sunday.


READ MORE:
‘We’re back’: new Saskatoon community paper hits newsstands next week

Mark Taylor, the head of the school of journalism department at the University of Regina says, this change is not a surprising one.

“I think it’s part of a gradual shift that we are seeing lots of other newspapers doing and if this works and goes over without too many problems, it might be Tuesday, Wednesday, until eventually the paper is completely online,” Taylor said.

Readers will have access to the online version, which is the exact same version as the printed one.

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Taylor added that the papers might see some push back from the older demographic of readers who are not online.


READ MORE:
LISTEN: The future of print media and journalism in the digital age

“I feel for the people like my parents and I think a lot of older readers who get the hard copy,” Taylor said.

“They always have and they might not be real web-savvy and they don’t want to get their news online.”

There will be no change in the subscription price.






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Lacombe Globe set to print newspaper’s final edition


Lacombe Globe set to print newspaper’s final edition

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Chad Brownlee apologizes over social media post depicting conspiracy theory – CBC.ca

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Canadian country singer Chad Brownlee has apologized after posting a conspiracy theory image criticized as racist and antisemitic on his social media accounts.

The musician from British Columbia issued the original post on Tuesday and then deleted it, however some social media users captured a screen grab of it.

The manipulated image depicts Jewish-American billionaire philanthropist George Soros with a chess board and pieces made up of protesters and the COVID-19 molecule.

Soros has been the target of many right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims he’s funding anti-fascist activists in the protests against racism and police brutality in the United States.

Reacting to social media anger over the post, Brownlee wrote on his Twitter and Instagram accounts that he apologizes for sharing an image “that was wrong, inappropriate and could be perceived as racist.”

He added his “intention in posting the image was nothing of the sort,” although he acknowledges “how people could easily have seen it that way.”

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Tyler Babiy fosters connections and community through social media – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Depending on your outlook, connecting through social media can be as interactive or isolated as each user prefers.

For Tyler Babiy, that choice is easy. Interacting with local creators and other like-minded people is the focus of his business, Social Made Local.

It originally started out as a T-shirt brand — an offshoot of his other business, T Squared Social. Since then, it has also fostered a community of like-minded, local creatives looking to connect, collaborate and share their creativity.

“With this T-shirt company I could just try to instil a sense of social responsibility in terms of taking ownership of the things you create,” Babiy says.

“It’s really cool to offer (creators) a space to have a voice and be heard — but to also plant that seed of consciousness in people that the things that we do on social media are not private and they can deeply affect the people around us in ways we don’t even know … so it’s just planting that idea that you’re not just throwing things into the wind.”

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