News and information that journalists need to serve the public and stay safe.
March 31, 2020
Your legal rights: How to respond if police or health officials challenge coronavirus reporting
Media coverage of COVID-19 has renewed questions about access to information and the rights of journalists while performing their jobs. Stay-at-home orders and expanded public health initiatives have injected legal issues into daily virus coverage. Mickey H. Osterreicher, the general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association , has been dispensing advice from the start of the outbreak and participated in an email Q&A with the Journalism Institute. Here are five key takeaways:

  • Journalists on a public sidewalk, street or park have the right to photograph and record what they can see without aid of telephoto lens.
  • Federal HIPAA restrictions only apply to those who have a “duty of care” to a patient. Journalists have no such duty of care.
  • If confronted by security guards, hospital personnel, health care professionals or law enforcement try to explain your rights. Record your encounters.
  • Often it will be necessary to request a supervisor. If that fails, move to another location and have your news organization try to resolve the issue.
  • Be professional and courteous. Request advance guidance from news departments on policies regarding photographs/interviews with children or teens.

How important has it been that a majority of states have included news organizations as essential businesses when issuing states of emergency?

Osterreicher : In order to be able to continue to inform the nation on matters of public concern (and at this point there is no greater concern than the COVID-19 pandemic) it is imperative that every regulation issued by federal, state and municipal governments include news organizations and those engaged in gathering and disseminating news as “essential businesses” or functions not subject to the restrictions being imposed on other non-essential functions. It should be remembered that, among other things, the First Amendment not only protects free speech and the press but also the public’s right to receive information.

For the most part, the federal and state governments have identified news organizations as essential businesses. As can be seen from this most recent post by the News Media Alliance , there are a number of states not listed. That may be because, for example in Georgia , these declarations are done county-by-county.

Read more of our Q&A here for Osterreicher’s advice on the biggest coverage obstacles journalists are encountering, protections for freelancers and journalists’ added obligation to be cautious.
Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor and NY governor's brother, quarantined with COVID-19
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo announced Tuesday he was diagnosed with COVID-19 , becoming the third known CNN case in New York. Cuomo reported the news on Twitter with his signature sass. “I am quarantined in my basement (which actually makes the rest of my family seem pleased!)” He reported having fever, chills and shortness of breath, all symptoms of the disease, but said he would continue airing his show from home. His brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at the forefront of the fight against the outbreak and has periodically appeared on his brother's prime time show, wished him well : “This virus is the great equalizer. Stay strong little brother.” Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the governor said he was relieved that their mother, Matilda Cuomo, 88, had not moved in with his brother.
Foreign correspondent shares reporting tips from South Korea
By Kelly Kasulis

Just a few weeks ago, South Korea and China were ground zero for coverage of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. In mid-February, the Southeastern city of Daegu had the second-largest outbreak in the world, behind China — and many of us foreign correspondents here were covering the virus around the clock. 

Now, life in Seoul is starting to look normal again: People seem to be walking the streets more, and my public bus to the Foreign Press Center is almost always full. Still, what we’re seeing seems more like “new normal” — almost everyone I’ve seen is still wearing a face mask, and I’ve seen restaurants force customers to use hand sanitizer as they walk through the door.

Around the world, more than 30,000 people have died from COVID-19. But when it all began, many foreign correspondents like myself didn’t know how “seriously” to take the virus, or what tone to take when portraying it to the public (especially as some called us alarmists). When the first few cases were confirmed in South Korea, I remember being quietly skeptical of canceled university graduations and having to work from home. Now, those acts of “social distancing” actions are exactly how health experts advise much of the world to “flatten the curve.”

As a freelance foreign correspondent, I’ve learned a lot covering this virus, and I hope to share some of those lessons here. I don’t have all the answers, nevertheless, this is a time for us journalists to exercise caution and ask ourselves big questions about how we convey information to the public.

Read on to learn key considerations for reporting on the coronavirus pandemic:
  • Let the public know what we don’t know
  • Consider targeted groups
  • Anticipate how government may use your reporting
Self-Care: Practice gratitude
You can say it: Things stink. While it’s tough to focus on the good stuff right now, experts say expressing gratitude contributes to physical and mental health , and so does documenting it.  

Write a note. In a “thank you” letter or card, be specific about how you feel, and why , while thanking a person for something he or she did. According to the CDC and WHO, it’s still safe to send and receive mail . Or you can bring the letter to life by reading it during a phone or video chat.

Thank a colleague by sharing one of the cards below.

· Cartoon workshop with Politico’s Pulitzer-winner (Webinar: April 1, 12-12:30pm EDT)

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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