For Nieman Reports, Kendra Pierre-Louis reports on the failures of the mainstream media, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and NPR, to accurately report on COVID-19 — and the dangerous narratives pushed over the past three years that have downplayed its risks to the public. To improve coverage, Pierre-Louis urges journalists to convey nuance, be mindful of unconscious bias, and include perspectives of people in disabled, elderly, low-income, and other at-risk communities.

In the process, we’ve failed at our field’s core tenets — to hold power to account and to follow the evidence. Our failures here could last a generation. As reporters, it’s our responsibility to accurately represent the needs of diverse perspectives and avoid an ableist bias that diminishes the real and lasting health concerns not only of those who are keenly at risk but those who are cautious about repeatedly catching a virus that scientists are still grappling to understand.           

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.