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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: media questions

2019-20 Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Jeyhoun Allebaugh/NBAE via Getty Images

Yesterday was NBA media day, so my Twitter timeline was full of Discourse about the NBA stars, Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal in particular, who are not vaccinated. Technically, Kyrie said that it’s a personal decision (but we pretty much know what that means) and Beal openly said he has not been vaccinated.

Once again: the vaccine works. It is incredibly effective at preventing serious illness and death. Please go get vaccinated to protect yourselves and your community.

There’s an interesting question of journalism ethics in play here - at what point should reporters stop asking those types of people about their vaccination status and stances on the vaccine? It’s certainly newsworthy, especially for sports journalists — a player’s vaccination status directly impacts his or her availability for the team going forward this season. But there is also harm that comes from giving those players a microphone and a platform (quite literally) to spout dangerous misinformation.

It’s at an uncomfortable nexus between a duty to inform the public and a duty to protect the public. Journalism, at it’s core in this country, was meant to serve as an independent check on power and government action. As one of my journalism professors said on the first day of class, “a journalist’s job is to provide the public with the information they need to make informed decisions.”

Another thing I realized, prompted by media day: we don’t have a similar culture of asking Premier League footballers about their vaccination status. Pretty much every U.S.-based athlete has been asked. Hardly any PL players have been, to my knowledge. I’m curious why that is. I think some of it (most of it?) has to do with differing levels of access. The Premier League doesn’t have player press conferences in the same way or have locker room media access like the U.S. does. But some of it also might be linked to the general public health response in the U.K. vs. the U.S. and some might be down to differences in the journalists themselves.

And if you’ll indulge me a moment to vent: I’m frustrated with the politicization of public health. It’s been going on for pretty much the entire pandemic and it has undermined so much. I’m tired of all the acrimony that traces back to COVID-19. This isn’t a commentary on beliefs or right and wrong. I’m just tired. And I’m sad. People are still dying in near-incomprehensible numbers every day. That’s children who are going to grow up without parents, people losing their partners, and so on. It’s so much death, and it’s incredibly sad.

/end vent

It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, behave yourselves in the comments.