News and information that journalists need to serve the public and stay safe.
March 27, 2020
Coronavirus community engagement can create relationships ‘forged in fire’

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it upended the public engagement plans many news organizations had been perfecting over time. In-person events shuttered abruptly by anti-virus precautions. In a matter of days, however, new forms of outreach took root.

Newspapers published coronavirus newsletters . They turned existing Facebook groups into conduits for virus information. The Arizona Republic began offering text updates to its readers. Publishers dropped paywalls and invited non-subscribers to their sites.

Bridget Thoreson is the engagement manager at Hearken, a public-powered journalism consulting firm, and she recently presented a webinar on how to respond to public information needs in times of crisis.

“All sorts of new products have cropped up,” Thoreson said.

For instance, KSAT, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio and a Hearken partner, is inviting health experts to a 9 p.m. broadcast where they take questions viewers have submitted online. Los Angeles public radio station KPCC put off its spring pledge drive so as not to interfere with getting coronavirus information to its listeners. Thoreson sees ideas for outreach everywhere.

“As you’re building relationships during this critical time and becoming a trusted source of information for your audiences, that’s a relationship forged in fire that should last well beyond the current crisis,” she said.

Read on for Thoreson’s insights on best tools for engagement, metrics for success & long-term benefits of outreach
Student journalism is an ‘essential’ service, scholastic organizations say
Student journalists provide an essential service and should be allowed to work regardless of campus closures, three organizations asserted this week in separate letters to school administrators. 

The Student Press Law Center , College Media Association and Associated Collegiate Press have issued letters of support for student journalists facing barriers as they attempt to access equipment, sources, and infrastructure to keep their communities apprised of vital news and information.

Issues like censorship and payment for student work always exist, said Hadar Harris, the Student Press Law Center’s executive director. “But we had a hunch, based on working with student journalists every day, those same issues were going to be heightened and there could be very significant challenges as campuses closed and as all work was going remote.” 

An early call to the SPLC’s hotline , for example, sought advice after an administrator told a high school yearbook staff it could not cover anything related to coronavirus in this year’s edition. “It’s the framing narrative of their year,” Harris said. “This is the story. And for an administrator to say they couldn’t report on it gave us an indication that this was not going to go particularly smoothly.”

As spring breaks come to an end, Hadar said, “we are just starting to see the impact of this on student journalists and their programs right now.”
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Self-Care: Tips from Beijing
Peter Martin, political reporter for Bloomberg News in Beijing, has been in China for the last two months.

In a 12-tweet thread this week, he shared his thoughts on how to live during lockdown


· SciLine’s COVID-19 resources for reporters (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
· Fighting for open records during the COVID-19 crisis (Webinar: April 1, 2pm ET, IRE/RCFP)
This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Holly Butcher Grant, Jim Kuhnhenn, and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover.

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