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News outlets adjust coverage as CDC shifts mask guidance

CNN's Brian Stelter examines the shift in media coverage of Covid-19 precautions, reflecting a reassessment of risk as more and more Americans are vaccinated.

Posted: May 3, 2021 11:01 AM
Updated: May 3, 2021 11:01 AM

Media outlets have covered Covid-19 safety protocols for more than a year now. But with new CDC mask guidelines in place, newsrooms are shifting tones when it comes to reporting on the pandemic.

With a wide range of Covid-related topics to cover, there's a lot of angles for media outlets to juggle, including deaths, hospitalizations, social distancing, vaccines and the economy. And although the future is looking bright, newsrooms still have to account for the trauma that was caused by the pandemic.

"Pandemic trauma is real, and we all have different reactions to it," CNN's Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter said on "Reliable Sources" Sunday. "Different people are handling the anxiety and the trauma in different ways."

And the media is adjusting to those changing dynamics. For example, as safety guidelines continue to evolve, many reporters are no longer wearing masks during on-camera interviews or when reporting from remote locations.

There was also some criticism about mask wearing and social distancing protocols on display during President Joe Biden's congressional address on Wednesday, with some outlets suggesting it sent a mixed message about the effectiveness of vaccinations.

With more than 100 million Americans fully vaccinated, the pandemic timeline and storyline are constantly developing. "I really have learned a lot from the people who I've talked to who calmly walked me through the data on outdoor masking, on just how powerful the vaccines are," David Leonhardt, senior writer, at The New York Times, said. He added that it's important for people to focus on returning to normal life. "If we stay kind of buttoned up inside our homes forever, we're actually going to be doing much more damage to ourselves," he said.

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