How to not let news coverage drive you crazy and keep you from getting work done during a pandemic

Estimated read time: 5 minutes


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 68,861 other subscribers



The 24-hour, nonstop news cycle of coronavirus continues around the globe. We have news outlets sharing news, brands sharing content and there certainly are more than enough opinions flying around on social media.

It’s easy to follow the news but that also means it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Even to the extend that people don’t get work done – whether they are working in the office or remote which a lot of companies are currently allowing to minimize the spread of the virus.

Jaci Clement
Jaci Clement

I chatted with Jaci Clement, CEO of the Fair Media Council on the Business Storytelling Podcast, in light of the current challenges to get tips and ideas on how people – including content creators and marketers – can manage the onslaught of news coverage in their daily lives. This article is based on the podcast interview.

Turn off notifications

For starters, she said, turn off notifications of updates from social media. During the show, we looked at the New York Times Twitter feed as an example. There were at least 4 stories tweeted covering coronavirus-related news during a 60-minute time span.

That’s 4 interruptions in an hour – on average every 15 minutes. While working, it’s hard to get anything done if we let those notifications disrupt us every hour and at those intervals.

That’s just notifications from one channel. Imagine if notifications for multiple news outlets are coming through that often. It can be a full-time job keeping up on the latest news and most of us aren’t getting paid for that.

Understand the urgency levels of notifications

If you insist on getting notifications, understand that notifications don’t mean every article is an emergency. “Just because you get a notification that doesn’t mean the world is coming to an  end,” Jaci said.

Also keep  in mind that many news organizations tweet about the same story multiple times. The New York Times for example picks different sound bites and shares them as another tweet –  often in a Twitter thread.

Read next: How I used the Twitter threads function to promote a podcast

Pick go-to channels and mediums

In a more routine news cycle Jaci would recommend to pay attention to multiple outlets. In this scenario, it might be best to pick one or two channels and check in with those websites or apps for updates. Consider signing up for their email newsletter and select for it to be send once a day.

Twenty years ago in a mostly print/network TV world big news events received a ton of coverage as well, but the newspaper came out just once in the morning. You read it then, went on with your day and read the next update the following morning.

Pick times for news checks

Especially in the context of getting work done, don’t check the news all day. Check it once in the morning, maybe over lunch and again in the evening. Get the highlights. Consider a mix of national and local news.

Jaci would recommend to stick to news coverage and not opinion or talking-head talk shows.

I wouldn’t mind getting texts in this scenario of content that I truly need at that time. Something that personally is affecting me now!

Evaluate the source and content

Consider who is being quoted.  Are they the expert on the topic? For example, medical professionals should really be the ones sharing the medical tips and updates.

Consider following your local government agencies to see when they have updates. Some of that information does not need to be filtered through the media and can be viewed right from the source.


The Mountain View Police Department shared an infographic to guide government agencies in their content sharing.


Understand the difference between political and health news

There’s a difference between political coronavirus news and health coronavirus news and it’s important to understand and consider the difference.

Political

Political coronavirus news involves what the government is doing. President Trump enacting a travel ban for the Schengen area in Europe falls into this category. So does how Europe is reacting to it, what people are thinking about, how Americans currently in Europe can get back to the USA.

President Trump blaming the Obama Administration, which hasn’t been in office for three years, for CDC issues also seems to fit here.

Health

Health news involves what those Americans in Europe should do to disinfect their airplane seats on the trip home. Other health tips fit here and also when there are new cases in a specific geographic area.

Anything that relates to the health aspect without a political twist – in theory.

Why the difference matters

The two topics certainly cross over and what the government is or isn’t doing can certainly impact our health considerations or conditions. I would probably prioritize my news consumption like this:

  • Health news with direct impact on me
  • Other health news
  • Political

The political news stories are usually where most of the debate happens. That’s another way to help us focus more on work and less on coronavirus news: Don’t participate in online arguments or debate or unnecessary chit-chatter for that matter.

And how about our children?

Jaci recommended to communicate with children at the age-appropriate level. Don’t let talk shows or news run in the background. Children may listen without asking questions.

Wrap

We certainly need to watch, read, listen to the news to know how the coronavirus is impacting our lives and it certainly is doing that to many around the globe in many ways.

But we also can’t make news consumption a full-time job that cuts into our actual full-time job.