Reporting during an epidemic

Effective ways Journalists can overcome reporting challenges during COVID19:

One of the main issues for journalists when reporting during this pandemic is the lack of access to face-to-face contact that they rely on for interviews.

During the Downing Street daily update of Coronavirus, there are no journalists present during the press conference due to enforced social distancing measures. Ultimately this means journalists are having to rely on digital technology in order to report major updates and access quotations for reports. Video calls and virtual attendance of major events are the main ways in which journalists can and are, overcoming the absence of a normal face-to-face interview process. As a journalist, I have overcome this obstacle by conducting interviews via Skpe as well as utilising telephone interviews. Digital means of communication has been my main method of reaching out to people during this time.

Another issue that journalists are facing is ensuring they are being safe if interviews are being conducted with the general public. Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communication and Information states “The role of journalists in informing the public during the ongoing crisis is absolutely pivotal,” He states, “Journalists’ physical and psychological safety should come first,” During my own practice, throughout this pandemic I have combated the issue of safety when conducting a face-to-face interview by adhering to social distancing guidelines and making sure there was no physical contact made between myself and the interviewee. Enforcing social distancing is another vital way in which journalists may overcome the issues of reporting during this time.

Journalists can also overcome the issues of reporting during the Coronavirus by ensuring they are carrying out balanced reporting. Ensuring scare-mongering is not a factor within reporting during this time, is vital for the public’s mental health. Fergus Walsh has been the BBC medical correspondent for the last 14 years. He told the Guardian the Coronavirus is “by far” the biggest story he has ever covered. He states: “I feel a huge sense of responsibility to get the tone right; the messaging right, and to show people the reality of what’s going on in our hospitals.” Madeline Palacz the Independent’s editorial compliance manager also stated: “The media does… have a choice in the language it uses to report these stories. Journalists must listen to readers’ concerns and appreciate that their work will have a real effect on people’s wellbeing.”