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More Covid infections in US areas without local media

The USA and Brazil have particularly high numbers of COVID-19 victims. In Brazil, more than 230,000 people have died after being infected, and in the United States more than 460,000. Studies on “news deserts” in these two countries now show that there are more coronavirus infections where there is no longer local media.

So it may be good news that Brazil have reduced these news deserts by 5.9 percent year-on-year. This is what the news atlas reports [i]News Atlas[i] in its fourth edition. The atlas examines local journalism in the large state.

News deserts have a significant impact on life in the affected communities; where editorial offices are merged and newspapers close, the “fourth estate” is bad. The number of newspapers that still wear their old cover but receive a lot of their content from other editorial offices is increasing. Reporting will then only take place regionally and no longer systematically at the district, village or street level.

Worldwide, the dwindling advertising share of local media in the advertising market is a driver for the media death; In return, advertising intermediaries such as Google and Facebook benefit. Magazine publishers in Germany are also preparing for lower sales and earnings this year than before the corona pandemic. “2021 will be a very demanding year. Only in 2022 can I imagine that we could slowly move back to the level of 2019,” said the chief executive of the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ), Stephan Scherzer, of the German press agency.

In Brazil today there is 3,280 municipalities without local mediawithout a newspaper, website, blog, radio or television station. A year ago the study registered 3,487 news deserts. Much of the new media is digital and very small, with only one or two journalists on site. With such small editorial offices, it is difficult to really research and verify information.

The authors of the study point out that they do not count offers from authorities, churches or political parties. In addition, there is a lot that they do not know about the offers recorded; be sure that it is difficult to do truly independent journalism in remote places.

In the US, the connection between the lack of local media and the provincial pandemic is being discussed: “If a person is infected in the forest and no one is there to report it, has they ever been infected? The answer is of course yes, but there is Covid-19 continues to spread to all 72 counties of Wisconsin, increasingly infecting people in communities where local journalistic institutions have been shut down or eroded – places known as the news deserts, ” wrote the [i]Wisconsin Examiner[i] already last year.

News deserts or areas with only one or no local newspaper “contribute to the cultural, economic and political divide within the country”, according to a report from the University of North Carolina. Those who live in news deserts tend to be older, less educated, and economically weaker, and their lack of access to local news can lead to less political engagement and interest in elections.

During a Covid pandemic, local news plays an important role in spreading the latest safety information. At the beginning of the pandemic, it could Investigate Brookings Institutethat half of the counties that reported COVID-19 cases in April 2020 were news deserts.

Even if the cause cannot be inferred from the correlation, the assumption of a connection arises: Without information from local news about how the pandemic is affecting the community and how the residents can best protect themselves, the people in the news deserts could be be more prone to the virus spreading.

And in Brazil, too, the gap is wide: despite the positive trend, around 63 percent of Brazilian communities are still news deserts. These are small towns with an average population of 7100 inhabitants. A total of 37 million people live in them, about 18 percent of the total Brazilian population. from 211 million.


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