Two weeks in photos – 18 & 19 – Obsessive media

Covid19 continues to fill the news. A number of news items are important like the progress of the illness or the restrictions placed on the population. Occasionally, those bearing witness bring home the gravity of the situation. Like that woman talking about her husband who’d been rushed to hospital and who was battling with death. Or reports that underscore the key role of hitherto undervalued and underpaid actors like health workers. But much of what is broadcast, especially as the lockdown draws out, is empty. The interminable ministerial press conferences with the ballet of statistics, unseen graphs as proof, during which instructions and key information give way to carefully-crafted slogans if not disinformation. A large part of news broadcasts is speculation. What are the government going to do? How is the economic crisis going to work out? How will people react to easing the lockdown? Or critical, rightly or wrongly pointing to incoherences in strategy, revealing failings in government responses. Reports from local sources or abroad are often anecdotal, delivering impressions rather than analysis. Then there’s the advice given on what to do during lockdown to stave off boredom. It’s as if this media effervescence were trying to fill the airways so as to keep people’s attention on the pandemic. Faced with this obsession, some react with anxiety and despondency, others harbour doubts and there are those who get angry… but I can’t help wondering if harping on the pandemic is not in itself bad for people’s health.

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