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Once upon a long-ago time, David Brinkley said the one function TV news performs well is that when there is no news, the anchors still give you the show with the same emphasis as if there were. The same could apply for websites of cable news shows.

One mitigating factor before we plow into it: It must be hard to cover 50 different things--such as states--from a national headquarters. Or from home, where many of us are working these days. You gets an assignment, you writes your best.

But those of us on the ground in these several states who haven't been parachuted in by an assignment editor (or a producer) might view some of these national reports with a look of curiosity. Such as when we see an odd-looking fishing lure. In the dairy section.

CNN reports about the states where the covid-19 virus is rising the most, and you can find it at this link: arkansasonline.com/519rising/

The headline:

These are the states

with coronavirus cases

falling and rising the most

And Arkansas is listed. Among the ones where the virus is rising "the most."

There was an uptick among active cases over the weekend, yes. And Arkansas still must be careful as it reopens. But what is "the most"? According to CNN's report, "Arkansas' case rate increased almost 50 percent this past week, from about two cases per 100,000 to roughly three."

If you'll look at the first graph in that report, you'll notice that New Jersey is listed as the first state in which cases are dropping. And whereas Arkansas has "roughly three" cases per 100,000 at CNN's last report, Jersey has dropped to "about 16."

Still, in all fairness, the report does say that Jersey has dropped from almost 25 cases per 100,000 from a week earlier. But if perspective is everything, then why not mention it? Perspective, that is?

At another page on CNN's massive site, you have this: arkansasonline.com/519graphics/

Notice the state-by-state comparisons in the small graphics. With all the space a website allows, why cram those graphics to the same size, so that Arkansas' numbers resemble California's? At first glance, it appears as though Arkansas has the same number of reported cases as the larger states. But of course it does not. Because the maximum on our graph is 250 per day, whereas California's is 2,500--10 times greater.

There might be a concern, or even hazard, that local newspapers could become cheerleaders for their states in dangerous and uncertain times such as these. After all, opening up a regional economy helps the local media, too.

But should Arkansas really be among the three featured states in a national report about where the covid-19 virus is "rising the most"? Whereas New Jersey is considered doing better? Twisting the numbers that far, that much, and that awkwardly is a good way to pull a hamstring.

Come on, guys, keep it fair.

Editorial on 05/19/2020

Print Headline: CNN reports

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