The Constant Shifts of the Coronavirus Pandemic May be Making Journalists More Comfortable Expressing Uncertainty

On April 4, a Los Angeles Times story about the varying effects of the novel coronavirus contained a remarkable paragraph:

“One thing to keep in mind before we continue: It is possible that the information you read below will be contradicted in the coming weeks or that gaps in knowledge today will soon be filled as scientists continue to study the virus.”

The paragraph was remarkable because the Los Angeles Times was admitting that its information was incomplete and subject to revision. News organizations, intent on projecting authority and knowledge, rarely admit their fallibility or lack of omniscience.

But in a period of uncertainty and almost constantly changing news, what are the obligations of journalists in making clear that their information is provisional?

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