Thomas J. Hrach is Associate Professor, Department of Journalism and Strategic Media, University of Memphis. Thomas J. Hrach's journalism career includes working as an editor...Read more
With COVID-19, a news story that may be 100% accurate can still unintentionally mislead readers about the greatest threats of the pandemic. The unintended outcome results from a lesson taught to every journalism student: Use “real people” to “humanize” the news.
The “real person” in COVID-19 stories may be a mom concerned about her child getting sick in the classroom, used as an example in an article about schools reopening. It may be the the family member of a person who died from COVID-19, who gives a moving account for a story about the virus’s effects on young adults.