Accuracy in Media

Georgia’s announcement that it will begin to re-open the state’s economy met immediate media criticism, including criticism from NowThis News. The website said that Georgia and other southern states were re-opening their economies “despite warnings against doing so.”

NowThis News headlined the recent announcements, “These Southern States Will Begin Reopening Despite COVID-19 Spread.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, also gave permission for gyms, barbershops, hair salons and massage therapists to re-open with some restrictions, while other states continue to restrict those establishments from opening. South Carolina and Tennessee joined Georgia in announcing limited re-opening of their state economies, but all three states emphasized the importance of maintaining restrictions such as social distancing, testing, and using one’s best judgment in re-opening a business.

NowThis News also cited criticism from Kemp’s election opponent, former Democratic state lawmaker Stacey Abrams. In a tweet, Abrams wrote, “Georgia: 14th highest infection/7th lowest testing rate; less econ resilient & 1000s of low-wage workers already forced to risk their lives to make a living. Weakened healthcare w/closed rural hospitals, no Medicaid expansion & a doctor shortage. Reopen? Dangerously incompetent.”

Both NowThis News and Kemp’s critics failed to recognize the economic impact that an economic shutdown has on everyday life for those who cannot afford to work from home.

Throughout the article, NowThis News did not mention of the economic ramifications of keeping the economy closed and limited, as it has been for several weeks. The website did not acknowledge that at least 25 million unemployment claims have been filed nationwide since the federal government recommended an economic shutdown. NowThis News also did not point out that the shutdown mostly affects low-wage workers who have to show up to work to get paid, such as bartenders, restaurant workers, and retail sales staff. A prolonged economic shutdown directly affects low-wage workers and their ability to pay their bills and pay for necessities, such as rent, gas, and food.

Reuters reported that Georgia’s labor department received over 860,000 unemployment claims since mid-March, or 17% of the state’s total workforce, when President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.

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