Nadia Hojjatpanah / Staff Reporter

News and media, specifically the language used by news, has a very real effect on our consciousnesses and therefore our actions as a society. Negativity bias is very real and has a substantial effect on our overall world outlook. Similarly, how article titles are phrased significantly sways what information we retain and which articles we choose to read. Here is a news topic used as an example to analyze the bias in news.

President Donald Trump has twice tested negative for the coronavirus, but during a briefing at the White House on Saturday, he said he “may take” the drug hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19. Within a matter of weeks this become a standard of care in areas of the United States hit hard by the pandemic — though doctors prescribing it have no idea whether it works.

“I think people should [take hydroxychloroquine],” Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing. “If it were me, in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it. I have to ask my doctors about that. But I may take it.”

“I have seen hundreds of patients with severe COVID and most of these people are on hydroxychloroquine,” Dr Mangala Narasimhan, regional director of critical care at Northwell Health, a 23-hospital system in New York, said in an email. “In my opinion, although it is very early, I do not see a dramatic improvement from the hydroxychloroquine in these patients.”

According to Statnews the president’s enthusiasm for hydroxychloroquine has also sparked a run on the drug, in some cases preventing patients with lupus, who have relied on the drug for years, from refilling their prescriptions.

One eBay seller recently sold hundreds of packets of chloroquine phosphate — which is also marketed as an antiparasitic used in fish tanks — for hundreds of dollars apiece. And the anecdotal reports in Arizona and Nigeria of patients poisoning themselves by self-administering chloroquine formulations, there’s concern throughout the public health community that Trump’s encouragement to try the drug could do more harm than good.

At the White House Trump mentioned “the FDA feels good about it. As you know, they’ve approved it, they gave it a rapid approval, and the reason [is] because it’s been out there for a long time, and they know the side effects and they also know the potential.”

But according to the FDA, this does not intend to object to registered outsourcing facilities using hydroxychloroquine (or chloroquine phosphate, which was already on category 1), when the FDA categorized hydroxychloroquine sulfate it did not change its approach, but they prioritized this substance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently no FDA approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19; however, there are FDA-approved treatments that may help ease the symptoms of COVID-19.

“We need evidence and science, not fear and anxiety to drive these decisions,” said Dr Saira Sheikh, director of the University of North Carolina Rheumatology Lupus Clinic and director of the Clinical Trials Research Program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

Hydroxychloroquine may also cause side effects and could be dangerous to otherwise healthy individuals if used incorrectly without the appropriate indication, prescription or monitoring, she said in an email to CNN.

As a treatment for Covid-19, there also has not been much research on hydroxychloroquine. There are no randomized controlled trials and most data on patients has been from small, single center studies, according to UNC’s Sheikh.

According to American Press Institute and Audience report on CNN, most news sources demographics are younger people since they are slightly less attentive to news daily, they are more attentive to breaking news. The youngest adults are more than twice as likely to follow up in-depth on breaking news as they are to report going in-depth in the last week on any news story. And they are most likely to be women, who prefer their news to be neutral, and who care mostly about national news. Younger adults seem to be busy in their daily lives so, they mostly receive their news online or through smartphones. Also, adults age 60 and over are less likely to report going in-depth on breaking news than on news generally.

According to Wikipedia the most reliable and trustworthy news source right now is BBC and Fox News. These major news sources tend to give us the facts and they include columns and blogs maintained by individual writers which is mainly their opinion on the news that is happening, and in many cases is more interesting because they often provide things you haven’t thought about. I believe this is the best way to do it, present the news in an unbiased tone as possible, then give the writers a chance to say what they think as a sideline.

But CNN tends to choose which facts to report and which ones to bury or gloss over in order to maintain the consistency of their narrative. This is done partially because a consistent voice is simply more authoritative in the ears of the listener than a voice that is constantly back-stepping over its own statements. Therefore, small news sources may have caught on to the things that were not mentioned and have stated the correct facts.

Audience report on CNN :

www.web.media.mit.edu/~a_hashmi/portfolio/audience_report_cnn_ali_hashmi_medill.pdf

American press Institute :

Wikipedia :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cable_news

Statnews :

www.statnews.com/2020/04/06/trump-hydroxychloroquine-fact-check/

Reuters :

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-hydroxychloroq/special-report-doctors-embrace-drug-touted-by-trump-for-covid-19-without-hard-evidence-it-works-idUSKBN21O2VO

CNN :

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/28/health/coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-trial/index.html

CNN :

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/05/health/trump-lupus-hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-protection/index.html

Nytimes :

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/health/coronavirus-drug-trump-hydroxycholoroquine.html

FDA :

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-daily-roundup-march-25-2020