i wonder how covid would have been handled differently if we had a democratic media.

for example, published papers (such as Pandemics: Risks, Impacts, and Mitigation (2017) or Preparedness for a High-Impact Respiratory Pathogen Pandemic (September 2019)) specifically targeting respiratory pandemics have been published for years. yet we had doctors as guests on mainstream media talk shows giving conflicting advice on masks and social distancing. our government failed us, partly because we have not democratized the media, since the media has become a branch of the government either implicitly or explicitly.

social media is not the democratization of media. it's the democratization of something else, maybe virality. we still heavily rely on established news sources to determine ground truth. if we had workers in the industry of interest (in this case, virologists, epidemiologists, nurses, emergency care technicians) providing a briefing on 1) the assessment of the current landscape and 2) next actions, imagine what media coverage would have looked like not only during the pandemic but in the years prior. the intersection of worker organization and media content is where democratization of media would take place. representatives from the labor union related to the industry of focus would confer with its constituents, designing those discussions to optimize a healthy dialectic between union members instead of subtweet-filled passive aggressive warfare, or a simple deference to whomever is at the top.

democratizing media may first require us to prove that we can democratize conversations. a council of researchers who study the impact of defunding the police with opposing opinions. a zoom call with economists and organizers discussing the tradeoffs between corporate bailouts, corporate subsidies and COVID stimulus checks, or a $26/hr minimum wage. If these are the types of conversations filling talk shows on news networks, the standard for campaign messaging would increase since the population would be well-versed in a dialectic around important topics that affect the daily lives of every american.