News and information that journalists need to serve the public and stay safe
March 12, 2020
In practice: Infographic design
Above: A fun spinoff of the original graphic
Below: A take on the CDC graphic by scientific illustrator Thomas Splettstößer
The CDC's "flatten the curve" infographic has been adapted and shared by news media outlets and individuals around the globe — without numbers or much text. What makes this an effective infographic for audiences?  

The graphic helps tell the story of how protective measures can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The information it relays is simple to understand, which is important for this or any other infographic. Being more illustrative, it's meant to show the idea of how protective measures help slow the spread, not actual number of cases. The height of each curve suggests protective measures can cut in half the number of cases, however that may not be correct. Reading only the graphic could lead someone to mistakenly believe this, as graphics are meant to be consumed quickly. While this graphic is effective at conveying the idea, more context is added when media outlets, such as NYT and VOX, publish the graphic alongside a staff-written story.
— Joe Greco, Society for News Design secretary-Treasurer & Tribune Publishing Print Production Manager

Thanks to subscriber Will Driscoll for the suggestion to look at best practices for infographics.
The other viruses to avoid when working remotely
Working remotely may safeguard you from the coronavirus, but it can make you — and your employer — much more susceptible to bad actors in cyberspace. So, in the comfort of your kitchen or home office, it is still critical that you harden your cyber defenses. 

Here are some simple but critical measures you and your employer should take to keep hackers at bay:

  • Bring your system up to date with the latest security patch.
  • Make sure you have access to a virtual private network, or VPN, to help protect your traffic.

CI Security , a Seattle based information-security firm, advises avoiding public WiFi. “If necessary, use personal hotspots or some way to encrypt your web connection,” the firms says.

Among the recommendations from DC communications firm Rokk Solutions are two-factor or multifactor authentication, such as a texted code, for all devices and accounts.

Andrew Arnold, who writes about emerging media, posted useful guidelines for remote workers last year on Forbes. Among them: Don’t leave your devices unattended, do not insert any USB devices into your laptops or computers, and don’t let others connect their devices to yours.

Now, kick back and press the start button on your espresso maker.
Classified coronavirus meetings: What's the law?

In covering coronavirus, reporters may find officials being silenced and information kept secret under claims of national security.

That means journalists covering the spreading virus could encounter information gaps. One administration official cited by Reuters indicated the security clearances were designed to prevent leaks to the media. The test may come when reporters file Freedom of Information Act requests for any records related to those meetings.

“National security is open to interpretation, and courts tend to be pretty deferential when it comes to claims of classification by the executive branch,” said Adam Marshall, the Knight Litigation Attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

But the news media has successfully challenged some classification decisions.

“It’s not like there are no standards,” Marshall said. A 2009 executive order spells out appropriate categories for classification such as military planning, foreign government information, and intelligence activities. 

“There is another provision that says information cannot be classified to, among other things, prevent embarrassment to the government,” Marshall said.
Coming soon:

How are student journalists covering the story with campus shutdowns and other restrictions? We want to hear from you.  

This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Jim Kuhnhenn, and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover, and please share this newsletter.
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