Media Focus on Trump Misinformation Distracts From Serious Pandemic Coverage — ‘News in Context’


Screen capture from the webinar, jointly hosted by “Civic” and “News in Context.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many of us to turn to news outlets to learn more about the virus, shelter-in-place orders, data on infections and deaths, and other details from political leaders, public health officials and analysts.

But, as we seek out relevant and reliable information, we are also exposed to misinformation, opinion and mixed messages from our leaders. We rely on journalists to give us timely fact-based reporting about all aspects of this developing story — to help us navigate the onslaught and contextualize, not editorialize or spin.

For a special webinar, jointly hosted by “Civic” and “News in Context,” I interviewed news experts Anne Belden and Ed Beebout, two professional journalists turned college professors, about their views on pandemic coverage. The discussion also aired as an episode of “News in Context” on April 22, 2020.

Belden runs the award-winning journalism program at Santa Rosa Junior College and is chair of the Department of Communication Studies. Before coming to academe, she worked as editor and managing editor at several Bay Area community newspapers and national parenting publications.

Beebout spent 25 years in television as a reporter and anchor, including at Santa Rosa TV Station KFTY. He is chair of the Communication and Media Studies Department at Sonoma State University.

We analyzed news coverage and explored how the news media is doing in covering COVID-19 – including the responses of public officials, data on infections and deaths, and the deeper work of explaining and giving context to all aspects of this ongoing story.

Gina Baleria is assistant professor of communication and media studies at Sonoma State University, and host of “News in Context.”

News in Context” is a podcast that explores media bias and how information is delivered and consumed. It airs on KSFP 102.5 FM Fridays at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.