New York Times Deconstructs Dr. Amy Acton's Celebrity, Effectiveness

The New York Times published a video Tuesday morning deconstructing the efficacy of Ohio's Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton.

After watching seven weeks of the state's daily press briefings, the Times team was able to identify patterns in Acton's style and syntax that have inspired Ohioans to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.

While she is by no means the only factor, Acton's leadership and early aggressive recommendations, (and the generally receptive ears of Gov. Mike DeWine), has led to far fewer total deaths in Ohio than in other states with similarly sized population, including neighboring Michigan.

The big three themes in Acton's delivery, per the Times video, have been "empowerment," "brutal honesty," and "vulnerability." Acton does not order residents to follow state guidelines. She makes them feel like they should, like doing so is heroic. Furthermore, she makes Ohioans feel like she's "one of us" by admitting her own struggles with state rules and by admitting that available information is subject to change.

Even saying "I don't know," the video suggests, can be calming when so many leaders are unwilling to admit uncertainty. "In a pandemic, the words our leaders choose can save lives."

The video also shows the degree to which Acton has become a minor celebrity during the pandemic, and shares a smattering of Acton memes. 

Gov. DeWine shared the video on social media Tuesday, praising Acton and thanking Ohioans for taking her guidance seriously.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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