Being overwhelmed by the volume of news isn’t a new phenomenon. But today, our sense of being overwhelmed has increased and triggered feelings of fear, frustration and anxiety, given the ongoing developments and research tied to COVID-19. How do we sift through the volume of information facing us and truly understand whether the news we consume is factual or based on opinion?  

As the global analytics leader, we know data can help. Data is scientificfactual and made up of measurable pointsIt's objective and allows us to remove the emotion from a situation like COVID-19. This is the art of interpreting data – telling an accurate story and fully representing that data without skewing it.  

SAS is committed to helping all individualuse data to make sense of COVID-19Through a partnership with The News Literacy Project, who advises all to “Sanitize before you share” information online, SAS has created a way to help people discern between fact and fiction with COVID-19 data. Just as we can take measures to prevent the spread of the virus, “we can also practice good information hygiene… to help stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. To help you do that, we provide five ways you can start making sense of COVID data. 

COVID-19 data explained 

COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds and the news is essential. Yet, even more essential is encouraging readers to look at what’s being presented and rather than take it at face value, ask questions about what they’re reading and ensure they understand the facts.  

  • Is the piece opinion or fact-based? 
  • Iit slanting the data to prove a point instead of adhering to its intended use?  

That was exactly the intent when two SAS employees guest blogged for The News Literacy Project and analyzed COVID-19 dataWhether exploring the impact across countries or the disparities within communities of colorthese data scientists look at how data can be misrepresented in the media and the imperative to go beyond the surface of COVID-19 data. 

In a series featured on The News Literacy Project’sCOVID-19 misinformation page, Jennifer Sabourin, Research Scientist and Software Developer, examines COVID-19 data, explains the intricacies of that data, and cautions that it can be misrepresented. Additional posts authored by Mary Osborne, Principal Solutions Architect, address why it’s important to take a deeper look at data to better understand how and why certain populations are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus. Here's a list of the posts, along with links to the full text on the The News Literacy Project website: 

Go deeper into the data 

Want to learn more about COVID-19 data and understand the underlying causes making some populations more susceptible to the virus than others? You can access the vulnerable populations dashboard to learn more and go into depth with the data used to build the dashboard.

You can also access other additional COVID-19 resources provided by SASwithin GatherIQ, an interactive hub for global citizens to learn, share, and do more for our world. Here, you'll get a chance to look at the world through the lens of data and the stories behind the people and organizations that are already making a difference. 

These tools, along with the guest blogs for The News Literacy Project, are all ways to educate yourself on misinformation and the correct use of data to tell the story of COVID-19. 

Fighting misinformation with The News Literacy Project 

SAS is proud to partner with The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy. As industry experts on data and analytics, SAS is committed to developing strong data literacy skills in students, and the general public, enabling them to understand how data is used in the world around us. SAS’ partnership with The News Literacy Project is beneficial for both organizations as it fulfills our shared missions – educating the next generation of innovators, introducing young learners to data, and approaching information with a critical eye.

Get smart about COVID-19 misinformation

About Author

Lee Ellen Harmer

Outreach and Collaborations Manager

Lee Ellen Harmer is a member of the Social Innovation Division at SAS, a team committed to finding innovative ways to apply SAS® technology to the world's most pressing needs. While focused heavily on global sustainability issues, the Social Innovation team also works to support the next generation of innovators, introducing young learners to data, how it can be used to better understand global issues, and how to turn those insights into action in their own communities. Lee Ellen's role encompasses marketing, communications, and partnerships to help promote the adoption of data literacy, coding, and AI for K12. SAS believes in promoting learning for all, with the goal of building a global community of innovators. Lee Ellen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a marketing concentration from Wake Forest University (Winston Salem, NC).

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