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In less than two weeks, Joe Biden will become the nation’s 46th president, even as violent clashes were aimed at halting his certification. Biden arrives to the Oval Office with the task of leading a divided America. The biggest issue is a pandemic that has devastated the economy, education and everyday life. Even with the anticipated introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine to the general public, confusion and tensions remain.
COVID-19 has emerged as one of the most notorious viruses in history, with an astonishing spread and ease of transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker indicates the virus has permeated virtually every community in the United States. Death tolls have climbed, especially in Black and Hispanic communities. It is hoped that the broad introduction of a vaccine will save many lives. Even now, the vaccine’s rollout has not gone as planned, however.
How can community media organizations help their cities and towns have healthy discussions and receive accurate information about the vaccine?
While polarization remains strong with Biden set to take the oath of office, there are several ways community radio can unite people. Here are a few reads on that:
- Our friends at the American Press Institute have collected a big list of resources for organizations providing coronavirus updates to their communities. Whether it is solutions journalism that stations can republish for free or step-by-step instructions for data retrieval of coverage you can give your audience, there are many tools your station can employ.
- Kaiser Health recently noted that dentists and optometrists are seeking permission to administer the vaccine. A fertile discussion locally is whether your area’s dentists and optometrists will seek authorization, and the process for receiving approval, as well as the required qualifications.
- With the vaccine expected for mainstream rollout in the late spring, NFCB allies First Draft are tracking the latest disinformation, as is Harvard University’s Misinformation Review. Taking on conspiracy theories about the science and intention behind the effort is likely to become the next media battlefield.
- The COVID-19 vaccine is also pushing people to confront an anti-vaccination movement that has operated on the margins for generations. Leaning on century-old arguments, anti-vaccination activists have used social media to promote their message. Facebook and other platforms, however, are getting more aggressive, banning such content. What vaccine education conversations are happening locally?
NFCB and its partners will be providing ongoing coverage of these subjects at our website, nfcb.org. You can get a weekly roundup of our web posts by signing up here.