Here are resources to help local newsrooms cover the coronavirus pandemic and adapt to remote work

Updated on April 7, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, local newsrooms are being forced to cover the news to provide necessary information to their communities while also thinking about how they can keep their staffs safe. 

It is an unprecedented challenge. 

Thankfully, some of the smartest minds in newsrooms around the world have put together guides and toolkits for how news organizations can best cover the coronavirus outbreak and also how to effectively work remotely. 

Here is a round-up of some of the most useful resources we’ve come across. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with any other suggestions.

Reporting resources

  • Resolve Philadelphia’s Reframe project has produced a thorough guide to help newsrooms present their coverage responsibly and effectively in a manner that helps provide valuable information to their communities.
  • The Newsroom Guide to COVID-19 was created by an all-star team to “to help newsroom managers provide clear, useful guidance to their reporters and editors during a period in which we lack official institutional direction on how best to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic.” It includes:
  • Poynter’s Kristen Hare has reported on how local newsrooms, including The Seattle Times, which is at the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, are covering the coronavirus. Read some key tips, along with the full story, in her Local Edition newsletter. Poynter also has a new daily newsletter briefing on covering coronavirus
  • First Draft has compiled an incredibly thorough resource hub, which includes information on verification tools, ethical decision making, debunked mis and dis-information, FAQs and more. It has also scheduled a series of video calls on covering coronavirus in the coming weeks.
  • Trusting News’ Joy Mayer wrote about how newsrooms can help their communities understand the purpose of their coverage of COVID-19 and how it’s attempting to help serve them. 
  • Hearken held a webinar and created a guide for how newsrooms can meet the information needs of their communities regarding the coronavirus. You can view the webinar and download the slides here.
  • ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen lived through SARS and covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. She compiled a series of questions reporters covering the crisis should be asking. And here’s a list of five questions reporters should ask their local hospitals and public officials about coronavirus via editor Charles Ornstein. 
  • The Conversation publishes explainers and and analysis from academics that are written for a broad audience. Everything it publishes is made available to other organizations for free to republish.
  • The Global Investigative Journalism Network has put together some great resources including overall tips for journalists covering coronavirus as well as more specific ideas for investigative journalists.
  • Language and terms associated with outbreak coverage can be confusing. Scientific American released a guide to help navigate the facts of a virus.
  • The Coronavirus Tech Handbook is a crowd-sourced list of tools that include resources on just about everything from remote work, to fact-checking and translation.
  • The World Federation of Science Journalists created a one-stop hub for worldwide health responses and countrywide plans to coronavirus 
  • Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation produced a guide in 2009 on covering pandemic flu. There are lots of lessons in here that still apply to reporting on the coronavirus today. 
  • Leading health journalists and epidemiologists presented tips for covering the outbreak last month in a webinar for  University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism. The Center release a recording of the presentations as well as the slides from each of the experts. 
  • Text messaging can be a great way to reach community members. Here’s how BuzzFeed and a number of local newsrooms are using the platform Subtext to report on the pandemic.
  • Dan Gillmor, co-founder of Arizona State’s News Co/Lab outlined how newsrooms can act more collaboratively during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The team at America Amplified, Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded project to cover the 2020 election, put together 5 ways to keep up engagement practices while social distancing.
  • The Scholars Strategy Network has created a list of academic experts who are available to serve as sources to provide perspectives on public health, immigration, medicine and economic policy. 
  • Digital Trends shared some reliable dashboards for charting the progress of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Kinzen CEO and co-founder Mark Little and professor Jeff Jarvis both assembled  Twitter lists of journalists, doctors, policymakers and epidemiologists who are covering coronavirus around the world. Former Brooklyn Eagle Editor in Chief Ned Berke also assembled a twitter list, specifically focused on infectious disease specialists

Tips for remote work

Starting to work from home? Here are some tips from folks who have led remote teams for awhile now: 

  • From the News Catalyst team: New to remote work? These tools will make your transition to working from home easier.
  • And here are another 18 tips that LION Publishers CEO Chris Krewson compiled from the organization which serves small local publications. 
  • Harvard Business Review published tips for how parents can work from home with their kids who are also home from school. It also answered 15 pressing questions about remote work and figuring out the kinks of office life without the office.
  • CJR assembled worldwide coverage of coronavirus and explained how those journalists got their stories
  • Taking WHO and CDC recommendations and precautions, the Committee to Protect Journalists put out the proper protocol for journalists to avoid infection and what to do if they show symptoms. 
  • How do you record a podcast from home? Head to the closet. Hot Pod covered podcasting from home and explained how to set up a makeshift remote studio.
  • University of Missouri journalism professor Damon Kiesow, shares some newsroom-specific advice on how to transition to a work office as seamlessly as possible. (Including: Use a smaller coffee mug!)

Self-care for journalists

This is a scary, stressful story to cover. Journalists need to take care of themselves. Here are some tips for self-care:

  • In this 2017 ONA post, Hannah Wise, now with The New York Times, shared three tips for a community-approach to self care.
  • In addition to physical health measures, the CDC released lists of tips and links to resources for managing anxiety and stress during an outbreak
  • University of Virginia clinical psychologist Claudia Allen assembled nine tips to protect your mental health during quarantine
  • Wikimedia, the nonprofit behind Wikipedia, announced its remote work strategy, emphasizing a family-focused approach that prioritizes employee well-being.
  • Misleading headlines can spark more panic. Harvard Health Publishing and Time posted tricks to weeding out misinformation and keeping a clear head. 
  • Hannah Storm, director of the Ethical Journalism Network, documented ethical concerns surrounding coronavirus reporting and how journalists can take care of themselves.

Funding and tools

Facebook Journalism Project

The Facebook Journalism Project, in partnership with The Lenfest Institute and other industry groups, has launched the FJP COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to ensure that local news organizations can continue to serve their communities. View the application here. 

Grant amount: Range from $25,000-$100,000

Deadline: Application opens April 13

Eligibility: Publishers must be: 

  • Based in the United States
  • Actively covering COVID-19
  • Serving a defined geographic area

Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

The Pulitzer Center is offering grants to support collaborative coverage of the coronavirus crisis. It is focused on proposals that:” Focus on systemic, under-reported issues underlying the coronavirus crisis, Use data-driven and/or interdisciplinary approaches to reporting on coronavirus, Hold the powerful accountable.”  Find out more here

Grant amount: Unspecified. Previous grants have been between $5,000 and $10,000

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility requirements: Open to all journalists from all regions all around the world

Format

The Photographer Fund from Format, a digital photography platform, is providing support for independent or freelance photographers affected by coronavirus. Apply here.  

Grant amount: Up to $500 per applicant 

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility requirements: Self-employed photographers facing financial hardships.

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub 

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub’s coronavirus challenge grant seeks projects that incorporate technology to mitigate effects of coronavirus on a community. Learn more here

Grant amount: up to $15,000

Deadline: March 30

Eligibility requirements: 

Demonstrate significant professional experience with technology

Show that they have experience solving complex problems at the intersection of policy and technology

Have a concrete idea for how to solve a problem related to the effects of COVID-19

The Africa-China Reporting Project 

The Africa-China Reporting Project from Wits Journalism is taking applications for Public Health journalism project proposals. Learn more here

Grant amount: $1,500

Deadline: April 30

Eligibility requirements: Proposals must be within the Africa-China public health framework

Candid.

Candid. has compiled a list of coronavirus relief funding specifically for non-profits around the country. Browse opportunities here. 

Grant amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies

Eligibility requirements: Varies 

Internews

Part of Internews’ Information Saves Lives campaign, the Rapid Response Fund’s aim is to provide support for local journalism worldwide. Find out more here. 

Grant amount: $100,000 total and expert advisory services for journalists

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility requirements: Journalists globally

The Association of Independents in Radio

AIR is providing financial support to those independent audio creators who have been affected by this crisis. Learn more here

Grant amount: Maximum $599

Deadline: Rolling with the goal of responding within 10 days of application

Eligibility: Must be an AIR member with good standing who demonstrates urgent need

Substack

The newsletter platform Substack is awarding $100,000 in grants to writers

Experiencing economic strain due to coronavirus. Learn more here

Grant amount: Range from $500 to $5,000, plus mentorship from the Substack team.

Deadline: April 7

Eligibility: Independent writers experiencing loss of income due to coronavirus

PEN America 

The PEN America Writers’ Emergency Fund is extending its pre-existing emergency funding to cover those writer’s whose livelihoods are at stake because of coronavirus. Apply here. 

Grant amount: $500 to $1,000 based on applicant need

Deadline: Rolling. Response is sent within 10 days. 

Eligibility: Applicant must be a professional writer based in the United States and must demonstrate that this grant will help them address an emergency situation

Microloans for Journalists

Journalists from across the country have come together to create a network of lenders and borrowers, connecting journalists who face layoffs or furloughs with journalists who can help. Find out more about applying or lending here.   

Grant amount: A $500 interest-free loan, to be repaid in one year

Deadline: Rolling. Borrower form opens Friday, April 10 at 12:30 p.m. EST

Eligibility: Any journalist in the United States who needs financial support because they have been laid off or furloughed can sign up.

Freelancers Union

The Freelancers Relief Fund assists freelancers who are struggling with sudden challenges related to their work because of the pandemic. Apply or donate here.

Grant amount: Up to $1,000 per household

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: To qualify, applicants must be:

  • A freelancer who primarily resides in the United States
  • Able to prove that freelance work is their primary source of income for at least one year prior
  • Able to explain how their income has decreased by at least 50% due to pandemic

Tools 

  • The American Press Institute is offering free access to its Metrics for News dashboard for up to 20 newsrooms. Apply here. The deadline to apply is March 27.
  • Hearken has launched emergency engagement resources for newsrooms covering coronavirus. Consulting calls will be held March 26, April 2, April 9, April 23, May 7 and May 21. 
  • Google is offering free access to its advanced Hangouts video conferencing tools for some G Suite clients until July 1.
  • Hootsuite is giving free access to professional plans for small businesses and non-profits until July 1
  • Mailchimp is offering free standard Mailchimp accounts for public service organizations sending public health information through June 30

Looking to map data? These tools are all available for free:

  • Surveymonkey is offering its tools at a discounted yearly rate for non-profits 

NewsGuard, the platform that assesses the accuracy and trustworthiness of news sources, is offering its services for free until July 1, keeping users from misleading news while they try to stay informed

We’ll keep updating this list as news develops and the situation changes.

Computer image of the COVID-19 virus by Felipe Esquivel Reed.

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