Coronavirus misinformation: How to find information you can trust during a pandemic

Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, having accurate information has been crucial to our daily decision-making about what’s safe. This is why I always have a bit of skepticism when people share something they’ve read or heard about the virus.

Did they remember the information accurately?

Was the information solid to begin with?

One of the good things about the wide availability of the Internet is that anyone with access can have a voice. That’s also one of the bad things about it.

A former boss used to say, “Everyone’s a publisher.” He was right.

Unfortunately, everyone who’s publishing didn’t get trained under tough editors who scrutinized their facts and how those facts were presented. Those were the people who would question a reporter in front of his or her peers, right there in the bullpen newsroom. This happened to me at my first reporting job, and it taught me to do my own article reviews to avoid the embarrassment of public humiliation. (There were other ways to earn that humiliation, like burning a bagel in the break room, but that’s another story.)

From my earliest days as a journalist, I learned to rely on trusted sources for my information. I interviewed people in a position to know what was happening. I checked my quotes before filing my stories. If anything didn’t sound right, I checked it.

I don’t know if everyone spreading information about the virus has been trained to use trusted sources and check facts. And that’s why I always want to know the source. If it’s an unfamiliar source, I’m not sure I can trust the information.

If someone tells you something about coronavirus or shares it with you via social media, please check the source. If it’s a source you don’t trust, check the facts against a trustworthy source.

Please be sure to get your health information from a reputable source you can trust. Having worked on content for Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, I know how careful they are about quality. For example, doctors review content for accuracy. I also trust government sources like the CDC and the local health department.

Because Covid-19 is new, scientists are constantly learning more about it. We need to stay updated on new findings that may change what we learned just a few months ago. That means checking the date of the information we read is important, too.

Be sure to check out my other blogs on this site!

Image by antonynjoro on Pixabay

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