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1 chart shows what's wrong with how the media covered the week's 2 big news stories.

Puerto Rico might not drive ratings, but it deserves our attention.

1 chart shows what's wrong with how the media covered the week's 2 big news stories.
People walk across a flooded street in Juana Matos in September 2017. Photo by Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images.

Hey! Remember Puerto Rico?

There was a big hurricane back in September 2017 that knocked out the power to the whole island leaving a bunch of U.S. citizens in the literal dark and without safe drinking water. President Donald Trump even went there to throw some paper towels. It was a whole thing.


Ring a bell?

This week, we learned that the government's estimate of 64 hurricane-related deaths was off by, oh, 4,600 or so. Unfortunately, you might not have heard about it.

You might be thinking, "Wait, how? I keep up with the news. How did I miss this story?"

The answer: Most cable news outlets barely covered it. For the most part, the story was overshadowed by coverage of ABC's decision to cancel "Roseanne" following a racist Twitter post by the show's star.

Media Matters, a liberal-leaning media watchdog group, looked at how the three major cable news outlets — Fox News, CNN, MSNBC — covered the new report on Puerto Rico compared to Roseanne Barr's tweet and subsequent firing.

Using data from May 29 and the morning of May 30, Media Matters found that Roseanne's story got more than 20 times as much coverage as the Puerto Rico report.

Here's another way to look at that data. Clearly, we're not seeing the full picture.

Photos by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images, Mario Tama/Getty Images.

We cannot forget the people of Puerto Rico. The tragedy was horrible, and for many, it's not over. There are still ways we can and should help.

Organizations like All Hands and Hearts, Direct Relief, Americares, Hispanic Federation, and Habitat for Humanity are still on the ground helping people rebuild their lives. We owe it to our fellow Americans to help, to never forget the tragedy that hit them, and to no longer let the rapid-fire pace of the news cycle bump these types of stories from the front of our minds.

Our news media owes it to us to give as much attention to the thousands of lost American lives as it gives to whatever the daily bit of Hollywood drama happens to be. (Admittedly, we wrote about the Roseanne drama earlier this week, as well.)

I don't know if there's something we, as a whole, could have done differently to help the people of Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

But I do know that it's on us to honor those lost as the result of the storm and apply whatever lessons are to be taken from this horrific event to reduce the damage of future disasters.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less