Info-demic spreads faster than Coronavirus

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ILLUSTRATION: The Jakarta Post
ILLUSTRATION: The Jakarta Post

UNAIR NEWS – Besides fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic, another challenge faced by the community this time is dealing with the spread of news info-demic. The definition of info-demic in general is the amount of news disinformation. There is a lot of false information circulating amid the pandemic which has under the spotlight in various media. In fact, this disinformation is even more believed and can cause panic among the public.

In this regard, Department of Communication, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP) Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) held a webinar about “Media and Info-Demic: Organizing News and Social Stigma Disasters”. The event held on Saturday, September 12, 2020, invited three speakers, Prof. Rachma Ida, Dra., M.Comms., PhD .; Ariyanti Kurnia Rakhmana, S.Sos .; and Revolusi Riza Zulverdi.

As the first speaker, Prof. Rachma Ida, Dra., M.Comms., PhD., briefly explained what info-demic is and gave real examples of some news causing it. According to her, info-demic is a flood of news or a lot of information. Prof. Ida also gave several examples of news headlines that triggered public panic at the beginning of the pandemic. One of them was “A Volunteer Injected Covid-19 Vaccine in Bandung Reported Positive with Covid-19”.

“The title can certainly create a perception in the public that vaccines can transmit the virus and they will be afraid of vaccines. In fact, the title itself still uses diction of ‘reported’ and it is not certain if what causes positive is the vaccine,” she explained.

FISIP Webinar, “Media and Info-Demic: Organizing News and Social Stigma Disasters” held on Saturday, September 12, 2020.

Furthermore, Prof. Ida also stated that info-demic can show the occurrence of Communal Perseption, a situation in which information reported and consumed can affect people’s behavior and psychology. The amount of misinformation can cause humans to have paranoia, fear, and even harm people.

“Unfortunately, because there is no standards or code of ethics on fake news, the spread of disinformation in various media is faster than the spread of the Coronavirus , ” she added.

Meanwhile, Ariyanti Kurnia Rakhmana, S.Sos., explained about the responsibility of media institutions in conveying information about the pandemic. The Jawa Pos journalist said that journalists themselves actually experienced confusion in delivering the news as this pandemic is something new, so there is no formula on how to find and spread news.

“The media do not have any references in dealing with a pandemic, so we are constantly looking for new formulas on how to deliver good news without causing public panic,” she said.

Regarding great number of fake news circulating, Ariyanti advised readers not to easily spread information without checking the truth first. She also advised not to click the news link , because the more people access the news, the more advertisements supported the media.

Not much different, Revolusi Riza Zulverdi as a journalist for CNN Indonesia also shared his experience in changing work patterns during the pandemic. Now he cannot search for data, which is usually done by meeting sources directly.

“We also experienced confusion in implementing health protocols at the start of the pandemic. I wanted to put on a cloth mask but I was afraid that it would not work because I often went to the field to meet many people, when I put on a medical mask, it was very expensive and scarce at that time, “he recalled. (*)

Author: Nikmatus Sholikhah

Editor: Feri Fenoria

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