Posts Tagged ‘media’


The “language” of Coronavirus instills fear and diminishes trust. 

While fear is often used as a tool to gain short-term compliance, it comes with a steep price tag, the loss of trust. Take a closer look at this recently published Gallup chart. Are you surprised?

The following is a list of frequently used fear-inducing COVID19 media terms. How many of these can be accurately defined by the writer, let alone their readers or listeners? And how would you describe your reaction? Anxious, scared, fearful?

  1. Cases and “numbers” exploding
  2. Hospital strain
  3. Unprecedented surge
  4. Running rampant
  5. Whopping
  6. Stay-at-home orders
  7. Shutdowns
  8. Lockdowns
  9. Alarmingly high
  10. Overwhelming

These obtuse and half-baked terms are no different than the food industry calling its products “all natural,” a meaningless marketing label at best. Without a common vocabulary and precise definitions, the present COVID19 language trumpeted by the media is intentionally designed and delivered to produce two outcomes:

  • Instill fear 
  • Destroy trust

What happens when fear dominates?

The brain releases hormones including cortisol and catecholamine, and shuts down certain executive functions like strategic thinking and trust. In other words, people psychologically “freeze.”

What does the media hope to accomplish by freezing the public, and what is motivating them to do this? Is it no more complicated than a lack of conscience, more “eyeballs” and increased ad revenue, or is there something more? Who is driving these panic inducing headlines?  Where have journalistic integrity, ethics and standards gone? How can the public be expected to now pivot away from the fear created by the media and embrace the vaccine news?

Little doubt exists that if we are to accept a vaccine the public’s trust must be elevated. The media needs to immediately take responsibility and be accountable for alleviating their fear porn and replacing it with trust inducing language, concise definitions, increased data transparency, care and empathy. In other words, the ethical practices that build trust. And our politicians and vaccine manufacturers must be held to the same ethical standard, working collaboratively with their media partners to ensure that the fear they have collectively created can be replaced with trust. Unfortunately, that can’t happen by flicking on a switch. Trust is built over time and in incremental steps and it is the outcome of principled behavior.

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Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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Have you watched the news lately? I tuned in yesterday for the first time in over two months, which prompted me to write this article.

If you are currently residing in the US there is a good chance that you are choosing to get your news from either Fox or CNN, depending on your political views. From a trust perspective, does it matter at all which one you watch?



The world’s citizens are suffering not only from 2020 COVID 19 fatigue, but also from the long-term fallout of a host of never ending global trust breaches in government and business. Unfortunately for all of us, the news does not appear to be improving, at least not what’s being reported. Since panic agendas seem to matter more to the media than facts, should we believe what is being reported? In other words, can the media be trusted?

I decided to put the industry to the test using our universal TAP Principles. They have now been accessed by almost 150,000 global professionals. Why don’t you do the same to determine if you should trust the media?


Take a minute to answer “Yes” or “No” to each of these questions:

Truth– Is telling the truth more important to the media than a panic agenda or monetary gain?

Accountability– Is the media holding itself accountable and taking responsibility regardless of affiliation?

Purpose– Is the media engaging others to build shared purpose to avoid short-term wins?

Integrity– Is the media committed to accuracy in pursuit of the facts?

Notice- Is the media seeking out, listening to and reporting on diverse perspectives?

Talent– Is the media rewarding moral character?

Openness– Is the media open and ready to learn?

Transparency– Is the media rejecting hidden agendas?

Respect– Is the media respectful of each other?

Understanding– Does the media not only celebrate its successes but also report on its failures?

Safety- Does the media call out all unethical behavior and make it safe to be honest?

Tracking– Does the media scorecard their performance against their values?


What was your final “Yes” and “No” answer count?

Can you think of any news media that would score a passing grade of 60% or more?

Should we trust the media to report COVID 19 information accurately, or any news for that matter?

And before you go, substitute the word “media” for “government” and then “business” and see if your results change.

Can our trust deficit be fixed? Given the right tools it’s not difficult. Whether it’s the media, government or business, it always begins with leadership, and that remains the greatest challenge, and the biggest opportunity.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

Copyright © 2020, Next Decade, Inc.



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