4 smart ways newsrooms are keeping up with COVID-19 coverage

By Jesse Moeinifar

Viafoura

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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With COVID-19 disrupting the world, the demand for news has never been greater. Newsrooms are being pushed to their limits as they test the most time-saving yet effective methods to sift through an infinite amount of coronavirus information, craft story after story, and keep their teams safe.

According to Therese Bottomly, the editor of a U.S.-based local newspaper, the “coronavirus will strain even the largest newsrooms as news breaks continuously and into the nights and weekends.”

Even though newsrooms are mostly void of actual people, staff continue to devote time and attention to COVID-19 coverage.
Even though newsrooms are mostly void of actual people, staff continue to devote time and attention to COVID-19 coverage.

So what could be a better way to ease the enormous pressures on your media company than by understanding how other companies are manoeuvering through this infodemic?

Read on to discover useful ways you can prevent your newsroom staff from burning out while keeping up with the demand for top-quality news.

Moving staff to cover the coronavirus

It’s no surprise that this health crisis has encouraged consumers to rely on trustworthy news companies for credible coronavirus information. As a result, traffic to news platforms has been soaring over the past few weeks.

Some media companies are meeting this high demand for news by shifting the focus of all content creators toward the pandemic.

For example, The Seattle Times is leveraging almost all 58 of its reporters — who typically focus on different verticals — to prioritise on covering COVID-19 in some way or form.

Even entertainment-focused brands like Bustle, People.com, and BuzzFeed are incorporating coronavirus content across its verticals.

By encouraging more staff to focus on coronavirus coverage, your newsroom can keep your community informed without burning out.

Promoting content across news platforms

Before the pandemic hit, it was typically every media company for themselves in the endless pursuit of higher revenue. But priorities have since changed.

Now, companies are more focused on keeping their newsrooms functional while maintaining an informed and safe audience — even if that means collaborating with competitors.

To provide readers with relevant content and prevent editorial teams from being overworked, different media organisations in the United States are promoting each other’s articles.

“The collaboration will allow newsrooms to pick up good information from other sources, so they will not need to re-report the same story,” Bottomly said. “We can cover more angles this way.”

Simplifying news updates

It became clear early on that newsrooms couldn’t keep up with the constant flow of coronavirus information by relying solely on traditional articles.

“By the time [coronavirus] stories are written, edited, and published, they are often already out of date,” wrote Matthew Weaver, a reporter from The Guardian.

For this reason, some media companies are turning to live blogging tools, which can allow journalists to post instant updates directly to a single place.

By reducing the need to create full-blown articles for each update, newsrooms can cut their workloads. Plus, live blogs give audience members a constant flow of relevant information they can trust.

“Only by following events in real time can you satisfy readers’ desire for up-to-date news about COVID-19,” Weaver said.

Navigating misinformation

As media organisations strain to provide audiences with a constant feed of news, they’re also busy sifting through a sea of misinformation. From anti-vaxxers to misinformed celebrities and politicians, picking apart fact from fiction is quickly becoming a priority for news companies.

Laura Helmuth, a health and science editor at The Washington Post, published a useful tip sheet to help newsrooms avoid spreading misinformation on COVID-19. Her guide notes that while newsrooms should effectively pump out content, it’s important to do so by protecting the overall quality of news.

In fact, one of Helmuth’s tips encourages media companies to avoid creating content that identifies misinformation unless it’s already prominent to the public. As stated by Helmuth, “repetition makes misinformation feel more true.”

Many media companies also prevent the spread of misinformation by using credible sources within the health industry.

“Lots of misinformation is circulating about coronavirus, and this problem will get worse as the outbreak does,” Helmuth said. “Look to infectious-disease and public-health experts for solid information, and be on alert for people trying to sell themselves as experts when they aren’t.”

Coronavirus-related news certainly won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Thankfully, you now have all the knowledge you need to help your newsroom and audience survive this explosion of information.

About Jesse Moeinifar

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