Ethics In the News Media Coverage for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl

The world as we once knew is no longer considered normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020, leaving many people confused about how to continue living their lives. Although, if you live in the state of Florida, COVID-19 is nothing to be worried about. At the start of COVID, Florida was like every other state. They followed along with most covid restrictions but as time went on the state became less and less worried about curfews, capacities, and masks. Throughout the last year living through the pandemic, Florida has gained quite a reputation. Not only because Governor DeSantis has made the state “open” but because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rightfully so won the 2021 Super Bowl. 

Due to the big win in their home stadium, the city of Tampa lost all control. There were parties in the street with hundreds of people avoiding social distancing and not wearing masks. For a few seconds, it was like the pandemic did not exist. However, for those who could not experience this moment for themselves the media did a great job capturing it.

The difference in coverage between both local and national news is that one is focusing on the positive effects of the Super Bowl as the other focuses on the negative effects. Local news captures the excitement of fans after months of living through the pandemic. Whereas, national news wants to continue drilling fear into their audiences. Regardless, both station’s coverage was fair to those who were tuning in. 

  Florida news stations covered the event with pride and excitement finding no problem with fans avoiding the pandemic. In fact, in one clip from the local Channel 8 News, Jeff Patterson, the news anchor justifies the celebrations by stating “maybe it’s due to months of isolation from the pandemic, or maybe it’s more fun than protest or politics.”  Other justifications given at the local level is that it will economically help the Tampa community. 

Whereas national news covered the event differently.  NBC News did a story on the Tampa Bay Super Bowl titling it “New Covid Superspreader Fears After Super Bowl Celebrations.” Throughout the story, they discuss the fear from health officials due to large gatherings and celebrations. Overall, they made it sound like a crime to celebrate the win. They also constantly referred to statistics and death toll numbers. This constantly reminds viewers that this virus has not gone away. 

Local news stations may have incorporated bias within their coverage, however, would the tables have turned if the Super Bowl was in another city? What would you have done if you were in Tampa when a historic victory was made? A lot of residents found this as a bright spot during a time of darkness.We may never know truly what the right way to act in this situation was, but according to research, there were no spikes in cases and history was made. 

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