Sunday, October 1, 2023
HomeHealth & FitnessWith the Talking People: Defending a COVID Voice

With the Talking People: Defending a COVID Voice

“We don’t have a unified voice.”

These are the words of Dr. Michael Osterholm, MPH, Director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, about 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, on NBC’s Meet the Press . He was a lone voice trying to say, when everyone was focusing on the science of cures and vaccines, we also need to think about communication .

This issue was never resolved. The result was a “botched” job of COVID-19 communications (as described by multiple sources) and a subsequent loss of public trust in the government.

The lack of a single voice can be made worse. As soon as the Biden administration got the pandemic under control, they started televised news conferences, not by a spokesperson (as Andrew Cuomo did for New York early in the crisis, as effectively), but on screen three speakers. Now they appear to have added a fourth for 2022.


As shown in the picture above, the White House is not one, not two, not three at PBS news time recently One, but four public health officials share the latest vaccine for Omicron and what could turn into an annual COVID-19 booster.

Just last month, when agency director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, acknowledged their public guidance during the pandemic, the CDC even acknowledged its communication failure, “Baffling and overwhelming.” From the outset, the focus was primarily on the sciences, and insufficient attention was paid to the social aspects of the challenge.

This can be seen in a number: 1 out of 31.

This refers to the two expert teams formed by the Biden administration to respond to the epidemic: the advisory committee and the White House task force. They have a total of 31 members. There are 15 MDs, 6 MPHs, 5 PhDs, but only one communications specialist.

This ratio accounts for the overall errors made in dissemination. It maps directly to comments by Andy Slavitt, a former senior adviser on COVID-19 in the Biden administration, who said he would give the White House an “A” on the science of the COVID-19 response, but not on the science of their efforts. “Social Sciences”.

Despite continuing to fail, this problem can and must be resolved.

Broad communication begins with a simple, central, guiding principle, universally understood and respected in business and entertainment: the need for a unique voice.

In the business world, you can see it embodied in the title of the 2012 bestseller “One Thing” about focusing on one most important task in any given project the value of. Could this be clearer than the title?

In his foundational 1997 book, “Story,” entertainment screenwriter Robert McKee describes what he calls the age-old principle of “classic design” for storytelling. This goes back to Gilgamesh at least 4000 years ago, the first written record of human communication. McKee’s first installment of this is titled “One-to-Many Protagonists.” Having more than one protagonist, he explained, “can soften the story.”

The 2009 article “Nicholas Kristof’s Advice for Saving the World” succinctly summed up this principle ‘s introduction. . In a brilliant article, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning article describes research by social psychologist Dr. Paul Slovic. Experiments show that donors are eager to tell the story of a child at risk Fundraising efforts to fight hunger, but if the story is about two children, the level of interest starts to drop. By the thousands, the connection disappears.

Communication in the singular is the most powerful. You see it everywhere. America has never had a co-president, a company has only one CEO, and almost all major movies are directed by a single director. That’s how communication works.

Furthermore, while it is essential to have multiple voice representations in society, when communication is required, it must come from one voice.

All This all begs the question of why the biomedical community thinks it can communicate through a different set of principles. It doesn’t.

The job of communication really sucks. So, how can we Correct future problems?

First of all, we need more participation from non-scientific voices. MDs and PhDs cannot do this work alone. Business and entertainment/media professionals understand every day Broad communication. Their expertise needs to play an equal role in further efforts to address the current pandemic and future crises.

Second, governments at all levels must embrace the fundamental principle of a single voice. That’s how the brain has been programmed for thousands of years. Breaking this basic rule is fun for artists who seek provocation, pleasure, and entertainment. But for the serious work of educating the masses about public health issues, there’s no room for error.

The public needs clarity, and clarity needs a single voice.

Randy Olson, Ph.D., Director of the ABT Framework Narrative Training Program, ” Houston, we have an author of a narrative

*)” and recipient of the 2020 American Medical Writers Association Southwest Chapter John P. McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication.



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