The news media must step it up in their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, there are lots of good explainers, but too much of the ‘premier’ coverage is being driven by celebrity political journalists. They are inclined, as is almost always the case, to treat COVID-19 in the typical political horse race/gossip column manner. So, stories about bad (horrible) public health policy are recast as ‘conflict’ between political actors. Once you have ‘conflict’, you slide into that ‘he said/she said’ crapola, and it’s all downhill from there–at that point, the reporting is actively doing a disservice to the public.
Science journalists, more often than not (nobody’s perfect), will ask what the science is (i.e., what should be done), and then try to figure out what is actually being done (the policy). The personality conflict crap only emerges within the context of those two questions*. It’s worth noting that some of the most explosive stories, such as hospitals’ inability to purchase masks have not been broken by White House press corps gossip, but by science and policy-oriented journalists.
Science reporters also have the added advantage of having dealt with multiple forms of denialism, ranging from creationism to global warming denialism, so they have some experience on how to write around that.
News organizations need to pull off their political reporters and place their science reporters front and center. These cretins are are going to get thousands of people killed.
Whether this applies to topics other than COVID-19 is left as an exercise for the reader.
*Trump’s malignant narcissism is part of the story, though most celebrity political journalists will never say or write that.