The coronavirus pandemic has produced a steady drumbeat of worrisome headlines, which are about to become more alarming as jobless claims surge to record levels in the next few weeks. It's going to be
hard to find a reason for optimism as millions face financial hardship and ache for a return to normalcy.
Amid the incessant COVID-19 doomsaying, it was interesting to see a
story about a leaked memo from Condé Nast Chief Content Operations Officer Christiane Mack that called for a sense of "cautious optimism"
in its coverage of the coronavirus
Her memo included a list of positive headlines and news stories for other editors to consider. Among the items were: "China has closed down its last coronavirus
hospital. Not enough new cases to support them,” and “Italy is hit hard, experts say, only because they have the oldest population in Europe.”
I've also read several more hopeful
stories, such as one by Meredith Cohn of
the Baltimore Sun that avoids the hysteria of many articles about COVID-19. Cohn reports that 80% of people with coronavirus have mild to moderate symptoms and recover well at home by resting
and remaining hydrated. However, the story also warns readers to contact a doctor if they're having difficulty breathing, and to get to a hospital quickly if the symptoms are much worse.
Mozingo of the Los Angeles Times has more insights about the pandemic in a story about a Nobel
laureate who accurately predicted the declining infection rate of the coronavirus in China. The basic message is that social distancing is a sensible policy that helps to reduce new infections in a
matter of weeks.
WWD questioned the sourcing and accuracy of some of the stories that Mack provided in her memo, saying they appeared "to have gone viral in
various Reddit threads and email chains."
I don't dispute WWD's reporting, but I also don't think Mack's memo was a prescription for recklessness and
spreading harmful information about the deadly virus. "Cautious optimism" also doesn't mean that writers and editors should refrain from scrutinizing public officials during the most significant
global crisis in the past 12 years.
There is an appetite for more uplifting stories amid the doom and gloom. That's why every national news broadcast ends with a more
positive, life-affirming story to counterbalance the prior 25 minutes of disasters, murders, terrorist attacks and political drama.
People want to be reassured that we're going to get