On June 4, local radio and television broadcasters across the country are participating in a national day of action – a focused day of vaccine education activity in communities across the U.S. to ensure all Americans understand the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, local stations have played a critical role in providing factual vaccine information to their communities, supporting and engaging in public service campaign efforts to help build vaccine confidence and address hesitancy. Hearst Television’s “Get the Facts on the Vax” initiative is an example of broadcasters’ commitment to providing factual information about the vaccine. We recently spoke to Barbara Maushard, senior vice president of News for Hearst Television, about this campaign.
How is Hearst Television’s “Get the Facts On the Vax” initiative working to fight misinformation and provide communities with trusted information to help them stay safe and healthy?
Nothing could be more complicated and frightening than a deadly pandemic. “Get the Facts on the Vax” is an extension of our on-going COVID-19 coverage. We consistently turn to local doctors – people our viewers know and trust – to provide clarity on complicated medical matters, like the virus, variants and vaccines. We take viewers’ questions to trusted local experts so they can provide factual, understandable answers and debunk myths.
What is the campaign’s ultimate goal?
As with all of our efforts, we are working to help our audience navigate through change and challenge by consistently providing critical fact-based information. We want our viewers to know what’s true so they can make educated decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
Can you share some examples of how Hearst stations are participating in this initiative? What are they doing to provide trusted information regarding COVID-19 vaccines to their communities?
Most of our news operations have local doctors regularly on our newscasts answering questions about vaccines. Many provide on-screen crawls helping viewers find vaccines and other important information. We have hosted phone banks where local health professionals answer questions directly. We have robust digital offerings with answers to key questions and information about the vaccines and where to find them.
How is this initiative reaching audiences who are vaccine hesitant? What messages or stories do you think are resonating with them?
We are repeatedly providing factual information and answers to most common questions about the vaccine on all of our platforms to reach all audiences. Some of the most compelling stories being told are those of people who were themselves hesitant or admit they didn’t take the virus seriously and ended up very sick or losing someone they love to Covid.
What do you think are the greatest challenges stations face in providing factual information to their audiences? What are some ways we can work to overcome them?
Two of the greatest challenges we see are the wide-spread misinformation shared via social media, and the politicization of the pandemic. Local journalists help by staying consistent in our mission of searching for, demanding and presenting the truth. Our audiences – our neighbors in the communities we serve – deserve to know what is true and real as they face so many challenges and have to make critical decisions for themselves and their families.
Click here to learn more about what local stations are doing to provide trusted news and information on COVID-19 vaccines.