Scare Tactics

Is it just me who cannot see the value of reporting cumulative COVID infections? There can be only one reason to that and it is simply to create fear. Here in the Czech Republic certain parts of the media report excitedly and breathlessly with each new total but surely what counts is the number of currently infected?

Even the map that the media helpfully provides of all the different regions uses cumulative infected per 100,000 rates to decide the strength or the red they use to signify danger. But when you drill down into the sub bullets, you discover the truth is no where near as scary.

Take the city I live in as an example. Brno. It is about 600,000 people – double that if you include the surrounding area. The highly useful and friendly Government website shows that currently, 15.73 per 100,000 are infected in the city and 6.8 per 100,000 in the surrounding area. I calculate then that about 94 people are currently infected in a city of 600,000. Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem very scary to me. Not that I won’t take precautions – I will – but its not stay at home territory is it.

Now, let’s go to Seznam – an online media outfit and see what appears to be the same map. It says 68 per 100,000 in the city and 20 per 100,000 outside it. That is quite a difference and much more scary!  Almost 500 people are infected out of 600,000?

Well, no. 500 people HAVE been infected – they are using cumulative infection rates. Why? I can only assume to attract more attention to its website news. As it is simply not correct and misleading to do that. By the way, the do the same thing at the country level with their nefarious headlines….. More than 18k infected people they scream…. Er no. Over 13,200 of those are healed and no longer infected. The true number is 5,300 out of 10.5 million.

The Government here is playing the whole thing down now. You can see why. The fact is that the infection is under some control via smart quarantine methods, mainly located to regional outbreaks and the hospitalized numbers are very, very low – at 131 – hardly about the break the system. The media though sees it differently. On Seznam, headlines scream things like “Infections double!!!” “Total number of infected around Plsen over 800!” “The Virus is Back!!!!” and so on.

The contrast between the Government attitude and the media is simply amazing. The Government has introduced regional maps that are updated weekly. Areas are painted white, green orange and red depending on severity and what restrictions are in place. I think it’s useful. This last Monday, they issued a second map. after a week of media headlines screaming about the virus and 18k infections and so on, the media had to explain why the map now showed only two green areas and the rest all white after previously showing 5 green areas…. quite a laugh reading those stories honestly.

I am not for a minute underplaying this virus. what I am noting is how the media seems out to scare us all to death using misleading statistics and attention grabbing headlines. That has to stop.

2 thoughts on “Scare Tactics

  1. The media has long thrived on fear-centric reporting. Apparently whatever gets the ratings is what counts for them. So sad that we can’t highlight the beauty in the world. If we did, our world would be a better place.

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