Commentary

Conde Nast's Call For 'Cautious Optimism' On COVID-19 Is Good Idea

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 WWD 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 outbreak.
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.”

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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.

Joe 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 through this.

1 comment about "Conde Nast's Call For 'Cautious Optimism' On COVID-19 Is Good Idea".
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  1. John Haake from Gotham Advisory, LLC, March 24, 2020 at 10:16 a.m.

    Christiane Mack's memo was ripped straight from the interwebs. Stay home, wash your hands!

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