Dear publishers, dear editors-in-chief, dear managing directors, dear journalists, dear PR colleagues in research,
why do I have to go to the Johns Hopkins University to see a cool map display of the world’s cases and tables? Why do I have to go to USA or UK to see this as a graph? Why do I need Twitter to feel fully informed? Why do I have to follow Lars Fischer and Kai Kupferschmidt and Christian Drosten to get trustworthy classifications of news?
Sorry, RKI, you’re really good and important, but you’re not really up to it. You also have more important things to do now (I am not at all being sarcastic, I’m serious!). Everyone is working at the limit. Everybody’s trying to do their best. It would be too much to comment now also on Bullsh*t like the question of a tabloid (BILD) reporter at the federal press conference if the Wies’n (aka Oktoberfest) in September and October could be affected.
And the numbers are rising. One half of Germany is demanding a complete „shutdown“ (without asking who will deliver their pasta and toilet paper), the others are celebrating a kind of Germany-wide measles party. In Berlin, red-and-white ribbon separates bus drivers from passengers who are not allowed to enter through the front doors of the buses while clubs a few days ago seriously considered to split a concert into two gigs on the same evening, so that there are less than 1000 people each. Meanwhile, all clubs are closed.
Please, why don’t the publishers get together and build one site with interactive corona maps for Germany, Europe, and the World, together with research organisations, for example? With links to stories of Lars Fischer, Sascha Karberg, Nicola Kuhrt, Kai Kupferschmidt (to name but a few; these are just the first ones that come to my mind, I hope those that don’t come to mind right now are not offended, I would be very sorry!), with trustworthy information and the podcasts of Christian Drosten? And Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim and Rezo and the Science Media Center help? I mean, the sh*t is about to hit the fan. Either because of the disease or because of hysteria or ignorance or everything. Look at Italy. Look at the USA.
Why does everybody write and broadcast on their own? ARD and ZDF, get together. Bring information to the people that is evidence based (!!) Don’t let every idiot get a word in. See above. Now would be the hour for science journalism and science communication to fulfil a civic responsibility together. No scare tactics, but well and cleverly prepared information – based on scientific evidence. On one page. At one address. Why doesn’t Phoenix (for foreign readers: that’s a jointly operated channel of Germany’s public broadcasters) or another special interest channel dedicate its entire program, yes, I mean completely!, to the Corona crisis. Constant updates, like Public Radio, classifications of news, statements of experts. This would also relieve the experts, who don’t have to run from studio A to station B and give a telephone interview to the German Press Agency DPA in between. Before Health Secretary Jens Spahn calls them and asks for advice.
Now everyone will say, but I do, we already have… — Yes?
Did you? Do you? No paywall? Everything so that everyone understands? Even on video? Even for the blind? Or the hearing impaired? F*ck, get together, inform the people and help us to master this crisis. Spektrum, FAZ, ZEIT, Süddeutsche, ZDF and ARD, Bloggers, Youtubers. T-Online, SPIEGEL, all the platforms with the highest reach. Please. Don’t look for the headline that sets you apart, don’t try to see if you have the best expert first. Inform the people outside. Get together. It. Is. Crisis. You. Can. Can. Do. Right. A lot.
Why not a special Twitter channel which debunks myths, which promotes researchers with sound and evidence-based advice instead of snake oil experts, fear-mongers and conspiracy „experts“? Scicomm, unite!