• Reliable sources for updates on COVID-19
• Coronavirus: Resources for reporters (First Draft News)
• AP Stylebook tips on the coronavirus (Kristen Hare, Poynter, 3-4-2020) For example: "Because COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus, it is not accurate to write a new virus called COVID-19. Instead: A new virus caused a disease called COVID-19....The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2, given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses....COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2.
• Tipsheet: Covering the Coronavirus Epidemic Effectively without Spreading Misinformation (Laura Helmuth, The Open Notebook, 3-2-2020)
• Journalists are recognizing they’re writing a rough draft of history – and can’t say definitively ‘that’s the way it is’ (Kevin M. Lerner, The Conversation, 4-13-2020) Journalists have historically done a bad job of explaining to the public that each day’s news report is, by necessity, incomplete and provisional. The question about masks is just one rapidly shifting element among a wide-ranging group of stories whose facts are updated daily, if not hourly. With one paragraph, the Los Angeles Times admitted that its information was incomplete and subject to revision. “One thing to keep in mind before we continue: It is possible that the information you read below will be contradicted in the coming weeks or that gaps in knowledge today will soon be filled as scientists continue to study the virus.”
"News organizations, intent on projecting authority and knowledge, rarely admit their fallibility or lack of omniscience....If the rest of the press likewise acknowledges that today’s truth is not a finished story and audiences begin to demand that sort of transparency, then as trust builds between journalists and the public, a mutual understanding of the facts and, ultimately, the truth can emerge."
• Phases of clinical trials (National Comprehensive Cancer Network). With dozens of clinical trials competing for the market for effective Covid-19 treatment, it is important to understand what each of four phases covers. Phase I trials, for example, test only for safety, not for whether the virus works, no matter what a firm's press release says. See similar explanations from University of Michigan HealthWikipedia (which has a useful chart)
• Covering the coronavirus amid infection, misinformation and scared sources (Emilia Díaz-Struck, Scilla Alecci, Will Fitzgibbon, Jelena Cosic, Delphine Reuter, and others, Press Freedom, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 5-7-2020) Journalists covering the coronavirus from Hungary to Chile are not only faced with the risk of contagion. They are battling secretive governments, restricted movement, misinformation and sources who are too scared to speak. (Scroll to bottom for links to more fact-checking sites.)
• COVID-19 Reporting Resources: Experts from ScienceWriters conferences (Council for the Advancement of Science Writing)
• Combatting the Misinformation Epidemic/Campaign (Comfortdying.com) See also The latest conspiracy theories.
• 10 tips for journalists covering COVID-19 (Taylor Mulcahey, International Journalism Network, 3-5-2020)
• Journalism in pandemic: online training for thousands of international journalists (Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 5-2020)
• AHCJ freelancers give advice on COVID-19 coverage (Sources, studies and self-care) (Carolyn Crist, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-12-2020)
• New York Times reporter calls Pence a ‘sycophant.’ The newspaper says he ‘went too far.’ (Erik Wemple, Opinion, Washington Post, 5-12-12-) Appearing for an interview with CNN's *Christiane Amanpour*, the NYTimes's science and health reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. -- who was well ahead of the curve with his warnings about the pandemic -- said he believed CDC director *Robert Redfield* "should resign" and that VP Mike Pence is a "sycophant." Did he go too far?
The NYT agreed with that assessment. In a statement, a spokesperson for the paper said McNeil "went too far in expressing his personal views. His editors have discussed the issue with him" to reiterate that his job is to report the facts and not to offer his own opinions. We are confident that his reporting on science and medicine for The Times has been scrupulously fair and accurate.?<<
Journalist Bob Roehr commented in a NASW discussion on McNeil writing "that was because of incompetent leadership at the CDC, I'm sorry to say — it's a great agency, but it's incompetently led, and I think Dr. Redfield should resign."
Roehr wrote: "The test was not developed by Redfield but by the lifers in the agency who failed big time, chiefly because they suffer from the not-invented-here complex that did not take advantage of the work done elsewhere by others; they insisted in developing their own test when it was not needed. Redfield's failure was the trust he placed in those employees.
"Overall the CDC has been a troubled agency for several decades that consistently takes a defensive posture and is not responsive to journalists. It still suffers PTSD from being politically kicked around for its early HIV work and anything having to do with sex."
• Editors’ Roundtable: Managing Pandemic Coverage (The Open Notebook, 5-7-2020) For editors who oversee their newsrooms’ coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has brought extraordinary challenges, from prioritizing stories when faced with a daily flood of possibilities, to protecting reporters’ health and well-being at a time of tremendous strain—all while working remotely, in many cases for the first time. Here five editors who are managing their publications’ coronavirus coverage took part in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion via email with TON editor-in-chief Siri Carpenter. (Participants: Eliza Barclay, science, health, and climate editor at Vox; Martin Enserink, international news editor at Science; Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief at Scientific American, and formerly health and science editor at The Washington Post; Jude Isabella, editor-in-chief at Hakai Magazine; and Sarah Zielinski, managing editor at Science.) News for Students. These TON resources may help.
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• CPJ Safety Advisory: Covering the coronavirus outbreak(Committee to Protect Journalists, updated 4-6-2020) Detailed practical advice about how to protect yourself while covering this story. See also (and especially) CPJ’s interviews with journalists covering the pandemic.
• COVID-19 Reporting Diaries: March 25–31, 2020 (Shira Feder, TheOpenNotebook, 4-7-2020) "Nothing that has come before in the infectious-diseases beat is remotely as huge as this story," says STAT reporter Helen Branswell, one of five journalists reporting on their coverage of this crisis. "The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that when covering a rapidly evolving event like this pandemic, it’s important to be open to new evidence and data, even if it goes against what I’d previously reported," says Garcia de Jesus. "We’re watching science happen in real-time—sometimes that involves conflicting information." (Other reporters on the panel: Mark Johnson, Antonio Martínez Ron, and Jane Qiu. Questions answered: What strategies have you used for finding suitable sources for your stories? What skills do you feel have been most essential to your work in covering this pandemic? Knowing that this pandemic will be a marathon, not a sprint, what have been some of the most important forms of self-care that you’ve been seeking out for yourself? What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned so far, in covering this pandemic? What tips do you have for other reporters covering COVID-19? Plus links to other interesting, insightful pieces.
• How to use Twitter to find a treasure trove of real patient voices (Sally James, Center for Health Journalism, 4-8-19) Thousands of patients spend time on Twitter talking about their cancer, or diabetes, or psoriasis, or almost any diagnosis you can imagine. As a reporter, you can find patients to interview while absorbing valuable background here. You can find an individual to be the face of your story, or sharpen your perspective on a chronic disease by reading about the experiences of dozens of patients living with it. These insights can change the questions you ask and the direction of your reporting.
• Watch webcasts on your lunch break. “Use your lunch break to stay up-to-speed on COVID-19. Many organizations — the Alliance for Health Policy, Commonwealth Fund, National Academy of Medicine, JAMA and others — are hosting webcasts and livestreams about various aspects of COVID-19 weekly or even more frequently, and they have fantastic guests such as Dr. Anthony Fauci. The recordings are almost always posted for after-the-event viewing within 24 hours. Choose one to listen to in the background while you’re cooking, doing chores or completing other tasks. It’s an easy way to get story ideas and learn from top experts.” (Lola Butcher @LolaButcher, quoted on AHCJ)
• Mass General FLARE (MGH FLARE) is a collaborative effort among doctors at Mass General to update fellow physicians in the pulmonary and critical care divisions on the latest novel coronavirus research--with a quick review of specific topics that have popped up in the news or social media literature on SARS-CoV-2, with a focus on critical care issues. H/T @JenniferLarson.
• Bad State Data Hides Coronavirus Threat As Trump Pushes Reopening (Darius Tahir and Adam Cancryn, Politico, 5-27-2020) In at least a dozen states, health departments have inflated testing numbers or deflated death tallies by changing criteria for who counts as a coronavirus victim and what counts as a coronavirus test, according to reporting from Politico, other news outlets and the states' own admissions.
• Avoid single patient, single source COVID-19 stories – especially on “cures” (Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 5-21-2020) Don't jump to conclusions based on news stories about a single patient, or about a single researcher’s belief in a cure.
• How COVID-19 is threatening press freedom: An interview with Joel Simon (Ann Cooper, Journalist's Resource, 4-13-2020) "It’s sobering to see how many governments have taken action against journalists for their COVID-19 coverage....political leaders are being told by experts that they must take dramatic action to stem the spread of a deadly disease but they are worried about the economic and social consequences of doing so. Of course one way to avoid making a difficult decision is suppress any reporting that suggests that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, and many governments are doing just that."
• The COVID Tracking Project collects and publishes the most complete testing data available for US states and territories.
• Op-ed: Covering science at dangerous speeds (Ivan Oransky, Columbia Journalism Review, 5-4-2020) How not to get it (especially Covid-19) wrong, especially if medical science is not your usual beat. Always read the entire paper. Ask 'dumb' questions. Ask smart questions. Quantify. What are the side effects. Who dropped out? Are there alternatives? Etc. and explained.
• Data Drum: COVID-19 Data (data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention. Also available as a mobile app.)
• COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) (the Allen Institute for AI in partnership with leading research groups) a free resource of over 45,000 scholarly articles, including over 33,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses for use by the global research community.
• Covering COVID-19 and the coronavirus: 5 tips from a Harvard epidemiology professor (Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 3-6-2020) Choose experts carefully. Distinguish what is known to be true from what is thought to be true — and what’s speculation or opinion. Use caution when citing research findings from “preprints,” or unpublished academic papers. Ask academics for help gauging the newsworthiness of new theories and claims. To prevent misinformation from spreading, news outlets also should fact-check op-eds. Read the work of journalists who cover science topics well.
• Reliable sources for updates on COVID-19 (ComfortDying.com site) See also Coronavirus: A Primer and How to protect yourself from COVID-19.
• The Five Questions Reporters Need to Ask Hospitals and Local Officials About Coronavirus (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, 3-17-2020) Including: How many beds does each hospital in your state/region have? How many of those beds are already occupied?
• Coronavirus Rumor Control (FEMA)
• Covering the Coronavirus Pandemic (National Association of Broadcasters) Webcast and other resources.
• The Newsroom Guide to COVID-19
• Covering Coronavirus: Resources for Journalists (Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma, 2-28-2020)
• A virtual conversation with science journalist Carl Zimmer (YouTube video, ScienceWritersNY, recorded 5-12-2020) He answers key questions frankly and knowledgeably (worth a listen). SWINY's further video interviews on the topic, including one on how Sweden handled the pandemic, here: Archive of virtual conversations with science journalists
• Carl Zimmer's archive of articles about Covid-19 issues
• Coronavirus, SARS and Flu Resources (Mike Reilley, Journalist's Toolbox, 4-1-2020) The most extensive set of links for journalists--both general and very specific!
• Presenting Trump and Science as Equals Isn’t Balanced, It’s Dangerous (Neil deMause, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, or FAIR, 3-23-2020) Stopping the coronavirus pandemic from taking millions of lives may require news organizations to take sides—but if it’s on the side of science, that’s the kind of bias that journalism needs.
• I Lived Through SARS and Reported on Ebola. These Are the Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus. (Caroline Chen, ProPublica, 3-5-2020) Instead of asking: How many test kits do you have? Ask this: How many samples are you running per patient? Instead of saying: The mortality rate is X%. Say this: Scientists estimate the mortality rate is X%, based on the information they have.
• Mapping coronavirus, responsibly (Kenneth Field, ESRI, 2-25-2020)
• Covering Coronavirus: Expert Tips for Journalists and Communicators (YouTube video, CDC at National Press Club, 2-10-2020, 1 hr 26 minutes) Streamed live, available with comments via LiveStream replay.
• Use caution when reporting on pandemic potential of Wuhan coronavirus (Bara Vaida, Association of Health Care Journalists, 1-23-2020)
• Despite pronouncements, no quick turnaround likely for COVID-19 treatments, vaccines (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, AHCJ, 3-20-2020) "An inaccurate statement that President Trump made during a March 19 news briefing - that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine had been approved as a COVID-19 treatment - demonstrates how skeptical journalists should remain when covering the unfolding story about treatments and preventative measures. While there are more than 85 trials for vaccines and treatments underway for COVID-19, scientists don't expect them to be available to the public soon, despite what some headlines suggest." President Trump is absolutely NOT a reliable source, and some of the things he's said have caused harm.
• Finding the latest COVID-19 studies — and covering them thoughtfully (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 3-20-2020) In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, most data came from news reports, clinical summaries and preprints. Now more and more peer-reviewed studies are coming out each day, and it's challenging to keep up with them. Several journals have set up dedicated coronavirus sites that can help in keeping up with the research. The Lancet's COVID-19 Resource Centre, JAMA Network's COVID-19 resource center and NEJM's Coronavirus (COVID-19) page all include the newest studies, commentary and related data and information on the pandemic.
• The Simplest Way to Spot Coronavirus Misinformation on Social Media (Will Oremus, OneZero, 3-4-2020) A digital literacy expert shares his method. Fact-check! See also Fact-Checking In the Age of “Fake News”: A Q&A With Brooke Borel and Alex Kasprak (Tips from the 2017 World Conference of Science Journalists)
• RSS service streamlines access to COVID-19 preprints (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-13-2020) A new service from NewsRx is an RSS feed specifically for COVID-19 preprints. (It attempts to streamline the process for journalists and researchers by turning the fire hose of research into something a bit more manageable.) You can check the site itself, sign up for the feed or sign up for email alerts. See also Beware the preprint in covering coronavirus research (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 4-17-2020)
• NewsRx Delivers COVID-19 Preprints NewsRx is a journalism technology company with several resources that reporters may find helpful while reporting on the pandemic, including a primer on preprints. See also The Power of Preprints, a primer on preprints.
• Problems with Preprints: Covering Rough-Draft Manuscripts Responsibly (Roxanne Khamsi, The Open Notebook, 6-1-2020) 'Hastily conducted and reported scientific studies are an unfortunate hallmark of the current pandemic, as journalist Christie Aschwanden wrote recently in Wired. She says journalists should have their guard up. “Where I’ve seen reporters go wrong on this is when they sort of grab these [preprints] because they want to be first,” Aschwanden says.'
• Stop Getting So Excited About ‘Preliminary’ Findings (Christie Aschwanden, Wired, 4-24-2020) No, seriously, when it comes to Covid-19—or any disease—bad data is worse than no data at all.
• The many challenges of covering the coronavirus (Jon Allsop, CJR, 3-9-2020) The challenge here is to communicate nuance and uncertainty in formats—headlines, tweets, and so on—that reward brevity and clarity.
• What Investigative Reporters Around the World Need to Be Asking About COVID-19 (Amruta Byatnal, Global Investigative Journalism Network, 3-10-2020) Q&A with Thomas Abraham, an expert on infectious disease and global health security, and the author of Twenty-first Century Plague: The Story of SARS and of Polio: The Odyssey of Eradication. Remember that science evolving as rapidly as this is hedged by huge amounts of uncertainty.
• How newsrooms can tone down their coronavirus coverage while still reporting responsibly (Al Tompkins, Poynter, 3-4-2020) When you do anecdotal stories about sickness and death from coronavirus, infuse them with the data that points out the wider context of the issue.
• The coronavirus crisis is also a domestic abuse crisis. Keep these tips in mind to cover it. (Kellie Schmitt, Center for Health Journalism, 5-29-2020)
• How to name a coronavirus ( Merrill Perlman, CJR, 2-24-2020)
• How to Report on the COVID-19 Outbreak Responsibly (Bill Hanage, Marc Lipsitch, Scientific American, 2-23-2020) Reporting "should distinguish between at least three levels of information: (A) what we know is true; (B) what we think is true—fact-based assessments that also depend on inference, extrapolation or educated interpretation of facts that reflect an individual’s view of what is most likely to be going on; and (C) opinions and speculation."
• COVID-19 reports (Imperial College London)
ON A SISTER SITE:
• Coronavirus: The good, the bad, and the practical (a full website page on many aspects of the topic)
---Pandemic: The big picture
---Social distancing and sheltering in place
---Testing, testing, testing--and contact tracing
---What patients with covid-19 experience
---The race for effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments
---Where in the world things went right
---Politics, government, and the coronavirus
---Trump's handling of the pandemic
---Why Covid-19 is so dangerous
---Who is harmed most by Covid-19
---Reliable sources of information (and against misinformation)
---A salute to the medical workers and others who help (I need more here!)
---Facts and tips that don't fit elsewhere
• Coronavirus: How to minimize your risk
• Covering the coronavirus story as a journalist
• On keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic
• 26+ things to do (listen, watch, read, share, do) during the pandemic
• Coronavirus: A primer
FACT-CHECKING SITES especially useful on MISINFORMATION/CONSPIRACY THEORIES
• Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory (FactCheck.org)
• The coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is real. We rated the websites responsible for it (John Gregory, First Opinion, STAT 2-28-2020) I’m an editor at NewsGuardNewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news and information websites. Our ongoing analyses show that misinformation about the outbreak is clearly beating reliable information when it comes to engagement on social media worldwide. NewsGuard has rated the credibility and transparency of more than 3,200 news and information sites in the U.S., accounting for 96% of online engagement, previously reporting that more than 1 in 10 of these sites share health misinformation. An overview of the misinformation epidemic. conspiracy theories, and the most prolific peddlers of health misinformation.
• Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center (Newsguard)
• FactCheck.org to Work With Facebook on Exposing Viral Fake News (Annenberg Public Policy Center, 12-15-16)
• Coronavirus Coverage (FactCheck.org)
• SciCheck (FactCheck.org)
• Debunking False Stories