Everyone's a Health Reporter Now: Covering COVID-19 on Other Beats

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This story was first published on IJNet, an ICFJ project that provides the latest tips, trends and training opportunities in seven languages. We’re committed to providing resources to help journalists in our network produce quality reporting on COVID-19 and other pressing topics.

As the COVID-19 pandemic grinds more and more countries to a halt, journalists around the world are doing just the opposite.

They’re finding a second gear to cover the virus, whether it be live-tweeting personal situations, communicating the latest updates and guidance from epidemiologists, doctors and public health officials, or reporting on the ground from the crisis’ epicenters. News about the novel coronavirus is dominating print headlines, social media and broadcast news.

It’s not just health reporters and those working at health-focused media outlets like STAT and Kaiser Health News covering these developments. Journalists working beats like transportation, education, sports and the economy have all begun to incorporate reporting on COVID-19 into their articles. 

“Everybody is attacking it from every angle that we possibly can,” Deseret News sports reporter Sarah Todd told IJNet. 

Todd was covering the NBA’s Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Wednesday evening when one of the team’s star players, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA immediately canceled that night’s game, and later suspended the season for at least 30 days. A second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for COVID-19 following the canceled game.

Due to her interactions with both players, Todd got tested herself — results were negative — and is now under quarantine, a precautionary measure to ensure no symptoms arise within 14 days of her exposure. She was tweeting updates the night of, and has since written this account of her experience. 

Everyone’s a health reporter now, in one way or another. “It’s not usual for me to be reporting on diseases, the spread of diseases, anything that has to do with that. I’ve been trying to keep it as basic as possible since I don’t have a lot of expertise or even sourcing that has expertise in the area,” said Todd. “We have people that are doing reporting as far as the health side of this goes. My side of it is more about how it affects the NBA, so I’ve been trying to get the angle I have the expertise in.” 

As she continues to cover COVID-19 as a sports reporter, she’s keeping at an arm’s distance anything she doesn’t know about the virus. “I’ve been trying just to use information that was given to me as a person that was tested.” 

As for her Deseret News colleagues, it’s all hands on deck now to cover the pandemic. “It’s affecting everything from every angle, so even people that are reporting on housing or business, there’s always some sort of tie,” she said.

We’ve pulled together some examples of how reporters like Todd are adapting to provide their readers with an increasing diversity of essential news around COVID-19 from all angles:

Education

Food

Housing

Transportation

Travel

Sports

Entertainment

Economy

Religion

IJNet staff Taylor Mulcahey and Katya Podkovyroff Lewis also contributed to this article.

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Tbel Abuseridze.

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