tips for journalists

Tips and tools to report safely and effectively during the coronavirus pandemic, updated regularly following Dart Center webinars.

The Dart Center is hosting a series of online conversations about reporting amid the coronavirus pandemic.Each week, subject experts and journalists provide advice ranging from reporter self-care and equipment sanitation techniques, to ethics concerns and methods for telling stories about resilience and grief. 

Webinar guests focus on strategies to synthesize constantly changing and critical data from multiple sources. Whether viewed in real time or in hindsight, we are working together to support and educate journalists during this rapidly changing, multi-faceted and unprecedented global crisis.

What can reporters do to cover this crisis most effectively? What are the stories that need to be told today and tomorrow, next week and next month, and over the long haul? How can journalists do their work safely given the restrictions on movement and in-person contact?

Scroll down for excerpts, and click the links below to read each tip sheet.

Covering COVID-19 on a State and Local Level

Guest: Irwin Redlener, MD, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University

Find the sweet spot between complacency and panic. Start by getting a handle on policy. 

Click here to read the tip sheet.

The Day the Pandemic Arrived: Reporting Lessons from America’s first hotspot

Guest: Florangela Davila, News Director at Seattle’s NPR affiliate KNKX 

Be prepared to reinvent decades of proven working practices in days, and to deal with a lack of capacity and equipment.​

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Learning from Past Pandemics: Bridging the Science Gap

Guest: Caleb Hellerman, Documentary filmmaker, longtime supervising producer to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CDC Fellow

The time to develop source relationships is in between crises. The time to use them is now.Be wary of arm chair epidemiologists and try not to be enthralled with experts. Use your reporter’s gut.

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Learning from Past Pandemics: Covering Ebola

Guest: Jina Moore, Freelance writer, reporter, producer

A valuable fixer may be one of, if not the, most important relationship for a reporter filing from a war zone or from other dangerous places. 

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Watchdog Reporting on the Pandemic

Guest: Aaron Glantz, Senior Reporter, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Report on who wins and who loses financially, and which sectors of the economy are getting the most help. Also look into the efficacy of systems set up so that people can get relief – are they working?​

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Documenting Death: Obituaries in the time of Coronavirus

Guest: Ari Goldman, Professor, Columbia Journalism School

Basic journalism tenets are especially important. Don’t tell us about a person’s life. Show the reader, viewer or listener how the person lived each day, what was important to them, who they loved and who loved them.

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Self-Care and Peer Support for Journalists During a Global Pandemic

Guest: Cait McMahon, Managing Director, Dart Centre Asia Pacific

Create, in your own mind’s eye, a safe place. Include auditory and physical sensations. Keep the image of the safe place in your mind.

Go there for five or 10 minutes each day. Imagine fragrances and sounds – use as many senses as you can. Your brain won’t know if you’re really there or not. Practice this on a daily basis.

Click here to read the tip sheet.

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by Susan Kaplan, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

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