The global coronavirus crisis has presented the world’s leading media outlets with a unique reporting challenge: how to cover a complex and evolving pandemic in a way that is accurate, transparent, up-to-date and does not cause undue alarm. How can this reporting reflect the available information and still be useful enough to inform the very real decisions we all face, from whether to cancel our travel plans, or buy extra toilet paper, or let our kids go to school or wear face masks?
And if we get all that right, how can we make sure people know that we have trustworthy information, reporting and analysis that is significantly more reliable than a Tweet or a Facebook post, or a doorstop comment by a politician? How can we help people know what to trust and better identify what might be misinformation? This is where The Conversation offers something unique. We only work with academic experts who are writing in their area of expertise. We have access to more than 90,000 of the world’s top academics, many of them immunologists or epidemiologists at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19.
These academics are paired with professional editors who operate in separate teams in nine countries across the world and publish in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Indonesian. Everything we publish is written by an expert and carefully checked by an editor. And if any errors do slip through that process we are absolutely committed to correcting them prominently and promptly.
That’s how we ensure that even as the virus spreads we aren’t contributing to a secondary infection of misinformation. So far this year our global academic network has produced dozens of invaluable articles from leading experts free to read and free for other media outlets to quote and republish.
Early on in the outbreak, one of Australia’s leading infectious disease experts explained how the virus actually causes illness and why that could lead to death in some people. Some of our leading scientists working on a vaccine explained why its production would take so long. And we had a group of experts explain why it was toilet paper, and not beans or rice, that was being stockpiled by panicked shoppers.
We’ve published so much on COVID-19 we’ve decided it’s time we gave you a little more help navigating to the articles you most need.
This week we’ve launched a regular weekly update of our coverage that will be written by one of our global team of Health Editors. The first was written by UK Health and Medicine Editor Clint Witchalls. He provides a great summary of how the situation has evolved and says the easiest way to stay abreast of our global coverage is to keep an eye on our daily newsletter where we’ll feature these weekly global wrap-ups, or on our dedicated COVID-19 page.
Please tell your friends about us so they can sign up too. And in the meantime wash your hands regularly, only follow bona fide advice, and don’t worry too much. A leading microbiologist at the University of Navarra in Spain says we have never been more prepared to fight a pandemic.
Authors: Misha Ketchell, Editor & Executive Director, The Conversation