Essential Media Literacy Tips: COVID-19

Published April 1, 2020

Dr. Helen Wang shares six essential media literacy tips in a recent interview with Buffalo Rising on how to navigate media in the age of COVID-19 pandemic.

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Professor in the Department of Communication

COVID-19, better known as the corona-virus, has been a lasting threat to both the American people and the rest of the world for the last month or so. It has ravaged through populations in China, Italy, and now the United States. With new cases showing up and more and more people dying every day, it is straining our economy in every way shape and form, but most specifically, our healthcare system. With the number of cases skyrocketing, our healthcare system simply does not have the capacity nor were they prepared to take in this many patients with the same underlying condition. Another aspect that is straining our economy is the function of small business. Since everyone has been put into quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus many small businesses were not able to make any revenue from customers and have been forced to close and lay off its workers. As of yesterday in New York, 3.3 million people have filed for unemployment.

A large number of people are also following the media at this point in time. The main topic for weeks on the news has been about the corona virus and what steps the government is taking to resolve this pandemic. As we are surrounded by an insurmountable amount of news, we sometimes get confused on what information is credible and helpful in dealing with these strange times.

 It is therefore important to know how to absorb, research, and disseminate news in light of this issue. Helen Wang, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, has highlighted 6 essential media literacy tips for citizens and students to practice while surveying all the media that comes out about the virus to point new viewers in the right direction.

Professor Wang’s tips are as follows:

1.)   Always go back to the original source if possible

2.)   Always check multiple sources, not just the one you like

3.)   Pay attention to the time stamp on the news reports to account for the nature of emergence in crisis events

4.)   Take everything with a grain of salt

5.)   Be mindful and exercise self-care

6.)   Spread kindness, not fear

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