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Curious: Social And Mainstream Media And The Upsizing Of Anti-Masking

A submission to Amplifier titled "Mask Up."
Lisa Vollrath
A submission to Amplifier titled "Mask Up."

It sure seems like a lot of people got irate about wearing face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The key word in that sentence is "seems," says a team from the University of Oregon. Researchers including linguistics professor Zhuo Jing-Schmidt tallied up Twitter posts about masks, pro and con. And they found a huge imbalance in favor of masks, but also found a loop in which mainstream media would pick up the anti-mask messages for news stories, effectively amplifying the messages and their perception.

This month's edition of Curious: Research Meets Radio brings in Professor Jing-Schmidt for an overview of this and other research into language and its use.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.