Sebastian R. Ortega / Staff reporter 

Thousands of Vancouver skeptics gathered in front of the Museum of Modern Art art gallery last weekend to protest the mandatory use of masks, quarantine, travel bans, and vaccines. 

Misinformation has lead to social media groups like the anti-maskers to have started to appear online. Skepticism puts people at risk from contracting and spreading COVID-19, by encouraging them to mistrust medical and scientific professionals. In order to persuade the anti-maskers to leave their conspiracies theories behind and trust in the media, we must first dissect the root of the problem: media credibility.  

Reporters should understand that their jobs are the catalysts for public divides and if it is made with poor credibility, it will cause mass outrage. Media should not only shine a light to problems in our society but also make us think critically about an issue and make intelligent choices towards fixing it. 

It is articles that say that masks do not supply full protection which has sparked groups as H.O.M. to protest. Full protection is better than no protection, argues a study in May by the journal Cell, which evidence found that if everybody covers both nose and mouth with surgical masks, it can have a large effect on the safety of communities. 

“If you’re talking, things are coming out of your mouth, and they’re coming out fast,” said Linsey Marr, Virginia Tech researcher. “[Germs] slam into the cloth of the facemask.”

There are enough studies to back the use of mandatory mask policies. Meta-analysis of 172 studies that looked at many ways to prevent COVID-19 found that masks significantly reduce transmission. 

The Hugs Over Masks “Festival of Life” held rallies across Canada and the U.S, in places such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Hamilton, and Las Vegas.

 “[They] work with the pursuit of restoring civil rights, democracy and way of life during unprecedented times,” said an unnamed anti-masker, from the front page of the Hugs Over Masks website.

Anti-maskers firmly believe that their civil rights are being breeched. From Reposting Gallery.

The movement gained momentum after the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, decided to revert to stage two in COVID-19 hotspots of the province. This means that dining, movie theaters and gyms will close off for four weeks to reduce the spike in COVID-19 cases. However, some protesters had different reasons why they refused to wear the mask. Reasons ranged from claims that masks were damaging for the lungs, to believing that the media created the pandemic. 

Because anti-masker claims lacked credibility, most news media like Vancouver is Awesome and CTV News covering  the Hugs Over Masks rally and completely ridiculed them. In the article “I hope it pours rain on them,” Vancouverites reacted to last weekend’s ‘freedom mega rally’ and dedicated a whole sidebar towards the critique of protestors.

Credibility is what prevents gatherings of a thousand to not occur amidst a pandemic. Journalists should value unbiasedness in the media, so groups like Hugs Over Masks start to trust what journalists have to say. If journalists want to steer public opinion towards problem solving, making sure to not alienize the group they are trying to persuade is important. When news media loses its honesty, despite their intention to cause no harm, people will act with ignorance.