Hand on laptop with

Upon Reflection: Media needs to get COVID-19 vaccine story right

Alan C. Miller: "Upon Reflection"

Alan Miller

Alan C. Miller

Founder and CEO


The media needs to be discerning about the vaccination-related events it reports, and how it does so, and avoid sensationalizing such incidents.

This column is a periodic series of personal reflections on journalism, news literacy, education and related topics by NLP’s founder and CEO, Alan C. Miller. Columns are posted at 10 a.m. ET every other Thursday.

When it comes to reporting on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, context is everything.

As millions of doses are injected into the arms of people around the world, adverse events are inevitable, even under the best of circumstances.

A small percentage of the population will have allergic reactions. Because the two vaccines now in use in the United States (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are highly, but not completely, effective, some recipients may become infected with the virus. And some people who have been vaccinated will get sick — or even die — from unrelated, if coincidental, causes.

The media needs to be discerning about the vaccination-related events it reports, and how it does so. Above all, it must avoid sensationalizing such incidents, whether in news reports or on social media.

Read the full commentary on Poynter.org.

Read more in this series:

More Updates

Graphic from student poster with stylized text centered:

Patternicity contest demonstrates mastery of key concept

Our brains are built to look for patterns, and we tend to see them everywhere. We look up at a cloud and see the shape of a cat. Or we recognize the outline of a face in a puddle. Patternicity is the term for this tendency to perceive meaningful patterns and connections among unrelated events.…

Updates

Celebrating AAPI journalists and news media

More than 40 years ago, the United States first celebrated the heritage of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) with a commemorative week in May 1979. But this year, amid disturbing violence and abuse targeted at Asian-Americans, immigrants and other people of color, appreciating the culture and contributions of the AAPI community is more important than…

Updates