Whether we like it or not: we are all victims of media hype and thus of the attention economy. A key date that proves this more drastically than the “normal” everyday life in the news business was February 24th: The day Putin attacked Ukraine – and when the media hype about the Covid pandemic fell from the media overnight, so to speak. hype about the war, which in the Europe of 2022 hardly anyone had thought possible.
Both hypes have in common that they each focus our attention on a single topic that not only dominates media reporting but also everyday conversations: 80 million German corona experts have become 80 million military experts in just a few days.
What has not been missing so far, but has hardly received any media attention, are attempts to scientifically process the media achievements and failures during such hypes. It should be made clear how great the risks are that, despite all the journalistic attention paid to the dominant topic in each case, an “infodemic” arises during a media hype in which fake news, half- and quarter-truths and propaganda circulate fairly unfiltered – and not only in the “social networks”, but all too often also in the reputable leading media.
Because this danger is probably even greater in war reporting than in the news business with the pandemic, attention should at least be drawn to one research work that tries to work through the previous hype about Covid reporting.
Joes Simon and Robert Mahoney, both from the Committee to Protect Journalists, explore how censorship and lies during the pandemic have “made the world sicker” and also robbed us of a bit of our freedom. They describe the dilemmas of the media and political handling of the pandemic. Last but not least, it is about the diverse state influence on the media, which also characterizes war reporting – albeit without offering patent remedies as to how infodemics can be combated in a promising way.