How I did it
Learn from these journalists how they have covered various aspects of infectious diseases. They provide valuable tips and sources and explain how they got past the challenges to better inform their audiences.
Learn from a veteran of the ‘misinformation beat’ about how to better check the facts
March 31, 2021
Here, PolitiFact staff writer Daniel Funke (@dpfunke) discusses his work and advice for other journalists seeking to get the facts out to the public and alert them to misinformation.
Science journalist talks about pivoting during the pandemic
March 18, 2021
Here she talks with AHCJ about how she made the pivot to a new reporting specialty and how she has been finding new stories during the pandemic.
How we reported on COVID-19 risk in multigenerational households
Multigenerational households, which can span grandparents down to grandchildren, are common in communities of color, immigrant communities and low-income families. Millions of people in these households face a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus because they often include not only the elderly but also essential workers who can’t work from home. Once COVID-19 enters a larger household, it routinely and quickly infects everyone in it.
These issues received a lot of attention in the earlier stages of the pandemic last year. Many media outlets published stories about several generations living under the same roof and the potential dangers of contracting the coronavirus. A good number in these homes contain essential workers with jobs that put them at risk of infection. But as the vaccine rollout began, most states didn’t adopt policies that prioritized these households. Our story explored this gap as we analyzed county-by-county data showing that people of color — who are at greater risk of contracting the virus — are more likely to live in the same home with older relatives. This became the foundation of this story. We tried to answer this question: did state officials consider the family structures and population health issues common among people of color?
Science-trained journalist gives advice on simplifying the genetic details around COVID-19
Independent journalist Marla Broadfoot has a doctorate in genetics and molecular biology and is one of those writers well-positioned to be writing about this topic. In a recent interview for AHCJ, she talks about her coverage of COVID-19 over the past year for Scientific American and gives advice to reporters who write about the complicated topic of genetics.
Reporter digs for the details to convey deeper insights to readers during pandemic
Here Contrera talks about how the stories evolved, how her reporting changed and how she adapted her work approach to painting detailed and memorable stories about COVID-19. She also gives some advice on how other journalists can tell these stories in their communities too.
Staff writer talks about covering COVID, responding to anti-science sentiment
Here Smith talks more about her journalism journey this year and advice for colleagues on how journalists can respond to anti-science sentiment and COVID-19 disbelievers.
‘Question everything:’ 3 tips for covering health when you usually don’t
Official guidance and scientific consensus will inevitably shift, challenging journalists to provide new context and transparency in their coverage.
We reached out to Mandavilli to learn how journalists can cover unfolding pandemic stories, even when health reporting is not normally their beat.
How one Poynter veteran helps journalists generate fresh pitches about COVID-19
To write it, Tompkins draws upon his 30 years in broadcast and investigative journalism, as well as his previous experience authoring Poynter’s (now discontinued) morning general news email called “Al’s Morning Meeting.”
In this Q & A, Tompkins talks more about his COVID-19 daily email, how he finds story ideas and his thoughts on how the pandemic could change journalism.
How a tip exposed serious flaws in rapidly testing nursing home residents for COVID-19
While the administration is touting them as a quick way to identify asymptomatic carriers, Pradhan found out that’s not exactly how they’re supposed to work.
Pradhan’s piece offers journalists some excellent ideas for questions to ask of both nursing home administrators and public health officials — from exactly which tests they use on residents and staff to their experience with positivity rates.
Journalist describes role in helping compile, publicize national data on COVID-19
Betsy Ladyzhets, a freelance writer and New York City-based research associate at Stacker, is one of the many journalists volunteering time at the project. She recently launched the COVID-19 Data Dispatch newsletter to put data about the pandemic into a better context for friends, family, media and the public. Here she discusses why she launched the newsletter and gives advice to journalists on obtaining and using COVID-19 data.
Carving out your piece of the pandemic story can require persistence and ingenuity
Investigating conspiracy theories a growing part of COVID-19 coverage
Marshall Allen, an investigative reporter at ProPublica, took on that challenge after some friends on Facebook and his brother, who is a pastor in Colorado, asked him what he thought about the trailer for the conspiracy theory documentary “Plandemic” began to be widely shared in early May.
Journalist finds lessons in the history of pandemics
For some context about the history of infectious diseases and their impact on humans, it's worth taking a look at Beth Skwarecki’s book “Outbreak: 50 Tales of Epidemics that Terrorized the World.” Each chapter is about 1,000 words and deftly and succinctly tells interesting tales about infectious disease outbreaks, many of which continue to plague the world.
Here’s an edited Q&A with Skwarecki, who is the senior health editor of Lifehacker, about her book and some obstacles that she overcame.
Global reporting in the age of coronavirus
Michele Cohen Marill's awakening to this reality came from an overseas reporting trip, just as the global dynamic of COVID-19 was shifting.
Editor shares tips for reporting on China's mysterious pneumonia
Lisa Schnirring, news editor at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy since 2007, has been covering this story as it has been unfolding.
Schnirring talked with AHCJ about how she has been keeping up with the news at it has been unfolding over the past few weeks, providing a valuable guide to other journalists who might be looking for resources to cover infectious disease outbreaks.
Science background helped student journalist’s reporting on predicting infectious disease outbreaks
Scientist and journalism student Prajakta Dhapte became fascinated with this predictive process and decided to delve into the modeling arena for a story published in Georgia Health News.
See what she learned in this Q&A with Bara Vaida.
Persistence, persuasion pays off with critical global health security story
Last summer she broke an important global health security story related to a dangerous flu circulating among poultry farms in China. It is a story she is continuing to report. Recently, she shared with AHCJ why she pursued the ongoing story and how she got it.
How one U.S.-based reporter shines a light on infectious diseases thousands of miles away
Weber shared with AHCJ how she has been reporting on the outbreak from thousands of miles away from where it is occurring and provides tips on how other reporters can cover similar stories. She also discussed how she reports on infectious diseases as a daily beat for a national news organization.
Journalist-author provides insights on covering the next infectious disease outbreak
At the end of their book, Salahi and Sabeti offer some concrete ideas to help the world can better navigate the next infectious disease outbreak. In an interview with AHCJ, Salahi discusses how she came to write the book and gives advice for journalists covering infectious disease issues.
Giving an emotional arc to pandemic preparedness story
The picture Yong paints is of an America that is both prepared and unprepared for a devastating infectious disease outbreak.
In this Q&A, Yong discusses the article’s inspiration, how he created an emotional arc to the story and the challenges he faced in writing it. He also talks about stories he wished he’d had an opportunity to cover and what other journalists might want to consider writing about themselves.
Author reflects on writing a book about vaccines, medical research
How a fellowship led to a series on global emerging infections
The story was about a professor of epidemiology’s three-year quest to learn what in 2012 had killed a popular 5-year-old Milwaukee County Zoo orangutan named Mahal. Affection for the orangutan, plus concern that other zoo animals also might be in danger, led the zoo to send the animal’s body to the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine for an investigation lead by Tony Goldberg, a professor of pathobiological sciences. After three years of work, Goldberg determined Mahal had died from a new species of tapeworm previously only found in Finland and Japan.
Reporter shares tips for covering pandemic preparedness
Freelance journalist Bryan Walsh explored pandemic preparedness in a May 15, 2017, article “The World Is Not Ready For The Next Pandemic,” for Time magazine.
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