Perhaps naively, I thought that most reporting on the ABC was without too much clickbait-y sensationalism, despite the shift to Dolly Mag headlines; ‘Marcella thought her toenails were completely normal, until one thing changed her mind!’

The pandemic, however, has proved that there is nothing more avaricious than the click hungry journo with a deadline.

Examples abound, but the most recent one I can think of was a headline that went something like, US schools opened in the middle of the Delta wave, but one thing worked!’. I note that the original headline has now changed, as so often happens, presumably after complaints about the misleading nature of the story.

The ‘one thing’ of course, is face masks. The article cites a US study that looked at many schools across many states, some with mask mandates and some without. In those schools with mask mandates, the rate of transmission was lower. A cursory reading of the study cited finds no mention of the one, most significant confounder – the rate of vaccine coverage in the surrounding area.

It is well known that high levels of community transmission correlate with high levels of school infections. Areas without masks are also more likely to have lower vaccine rates. The fact that this is not even mentioned in the article is pretty appalling, but achieves its purpose; an endless, toxic fight about masking in schools.

Likewise, endless articles about the ‘ballooning’ rates of transmission in England driven by high school kids. 14% of high schoolers in England are vaccinated.

The big pandemic story – rampant transmission and serious illness – is drawing to a close in Australia, but the media outlets aren’t giving up easily. In our local area, our adult vaccination rate is 97%, and teens are at 80%.

It’s having boringly predictable results.

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