Commentary: TV news reports become more sickening than the virus itself

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Jodi Rall, Columnist File Photo

Jodi Rall is a Brentwood resident and writer. 

I was multitasking by cooking dinner while watching the evening national news. My mistake. The broadcaster led with “COVID-19 is causing severe stress in America.”

Yes, I agree that the pandemic has caused more stress. But you know what I also believe: The media is making it worse.

While I know yelling at the TV and saying “No, you’re stressing me out” didn’t solve the issue — I’ve resorted to talking to myself, or to inanimate objects, proud moment here folks — it did make me feel better to get that off my chest.

Back in the day, when I was studying journalism down in the swamp — haters, do not come at me, we both love orange, simply different shades — I distinctly remember being taught that our job was to tell the news in a factual way.

Broadcast journalism today has become pop entertainment, with reporters being the news. The ratings and sensationalism have changed the face of what news used to be.

Neutral. Now there is a word you won’t experience when watching the news. The political jabs and embellishment of the facts are the new normal.

A friend said to me, “It borders on being unethical.”

Oh, it’s not bordering on anything. It is actually highly unethical.

Words are being taken out of context. If you take the time to read the report of what was really said, it’s right there in black and white. But the problem is that too many people take the shortcut and don’t stay around long enough to get the full story.

My sister texted me last week and became worried as the national news reported a drastic spike of COVID cases in Nashville, the new epicenter for the pandemic. Here we go.

I was proud of Dr. Alex Jahangir for writing a letter to his fellow Nashvillians to address the “inaccurate information” being shared by national news outlets.

Imagine the power of the written word. Another lesson learned in journalism school was to read the newspaper. It takes the human inflection out and it is more factual. Interesting, right?

With all this off my chest, my mood is certainly lifted. And the TV has now been turned off.

Here is something with which I will leave you. When you see or hear the news posts every day from the Tennessee Department of Health, find the report and read it.

Do you ever hear the news talking about how many people have recovered? The world just loves it some bad news. But, mentally, it’s healthier to focus on the positive.

Take the focus off the new cases, as they are going down. Focus on those recovered and find peace.

Look for the good news this week, friends. It is there. You just won’t find it on TV.

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