How To Find ‘The Truth About COVID-19’ – This Thursday 6pm
Written by Steve Baker on June 23, 2020
A member of KVMR’s news team was walking down the street in Nevada City one day in April when a listener approached him and demanded that KVMR “start telling the truth about COVID-19.”
That led KVMR’s General Manager Ali Lightfoot and broadcaster/journalist Joyce Miller down a long and winding path.
The results of that walk to “The Truth About COVID-19” will be broadcast this Thursday, June 25 on a news special from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. (89.5 FM, 105.1 FM Truckee, kvmr.org streaming)
“Telling the truth about something means you would include facts and verified information,” says Lightfoot, “but not everyone agrees on where you would find that these days.”
Lightfoot believes that the country is facing a crisis in fact-finding and there are some new studies to back up her theory.
An Axios/Ipsos poll conducted in March of 2020, showed that roughly half the country says they don’t trust traditional media to accurately deliver information about the coronavirus. That number sinks even lower for digital media and online news companies.
The free-for-all of social media offers a nonstop glut of information without benefit of editors or fact checkers. Conspiracy theories and dubiously sourced claims are widely circulated.
At the same time, the 24-hour news cycle of cable television and the other mainstream media blur fact and opinion with an over-saturation of “analysis” that has caused a steady decline in trust in formerly respected news sources.
Newspapers, which some still consider the most reliable source for objective reporting and investigative journalism, are struggling financially, short-staffed, and adjusting to COVID-19’s demands for reporters adept at interpreting scientific research.
“We really ended up looking into where people go for information and why they trust it right now,” says Lightfoot.
To do this, KVMR interviewed:
–Jennifer Kavanaugh, a researcher who co-wrote a book called “Truth Decay,” which explores the erosion of trust in mainstream media and how cognitive bias plays a role in what people choose to believe.
–Professor James R. Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who shares trusted resources for scientific research.
–Anita Varma, Assistant Director of Journalism and Media Ethics at Santa Clara University, who shares her observations about how journalists should cover the ever-changing story of COVID-19.
Dr. James Tabery – A professor at the University of Utah in the Department of Internal Medicine talks about the class he taught called “Detecting BS,” which delves into ways to detect fake or misleading research.
For local perspective, they heard from::
Astrologer Starlight Kompost, who talks about where she gets information on the spiritual, astrological and environmental implications of COVID-19.
Cindy Wilson, director of Public Health Nursing for Nevada County, who talks about the challenges in getting news and updates about safety protocols out to Nevada County residents and the constantly changing information coming from government agencies.
And a KVMR listener named Shane, who believes the mainstream narrative is a lie and COVID-19 is a “psy-op.” He talks about his distrust of any information coming from government or official sources.
“Science and media were already being questioned, often along partisan lines, even before the pandemic,” adds Lightfoot.
“The role of community radio is to gather and clarify information about safety protocols, local resources, and statewide orders during this pandemic, but I think we also have an obligation to present a wide range of perspectives on what it all means to us and how we are disseminating this information,” Lightfoot says. “KVMR’s listening area, like the rest of the nation, has no shortage of strong opinions about COVID-19, but we are also collectively questioning where we find information we can trust because the stakes are so high. I thought this was the story we should tell.”
That’s how Thursday night’s special developed, and there will plenty of perspectives during the hour-long look at sources, information and COVID-19.
KNOW & HEAR
WHO: KVMR 89.5 FM presents a special produced and written by KVMR General Manager Ali Lightfoot and Broadcaster Joyce Miller
WHAT: “The Truth About COVID-19” is an hour news documentary/special that examines sources, information veracity, media ethics and cognitive bias in this pandemic era.
WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m., tonight (Thursday, June 25)
WHERE: KVMR 89. 5 FM, 105.1 FM Truckee, kvmr.org streaming worldwide