Science Journalism & COVID-19: Reporting for In-Depth Coverage
Thursday, June 25, 2020, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM EDT
The New York Academy of Sciences
Science Journalists have a special opportunity—and responsibility—to help educate the public about COVID-19. Reporters and writers who specialize in science can dig deep and get the facts about clinical research, epidemiology, therapeutics, and vaccine development. And they have the right skills to communicate the underlying science to readers.
How do science writers and journalists get the story and tell it to their audiences? We’ll ask:
- How well does the general public, and government and business leaders, understand the science behind COVID-19?
- What strategies do science writers and journalists use to report and explain technical information and concepts? How do they use storytelling, profiles, and narrative techniques?
- How do science journalists and writers fact check their stories?
- How do they provide appropriate context – or avoid reporting -- mis-information, rumors, and incomplete, unproven or questionable data?
- How have science journalists broken through barriers to information?
- Why did the COVID-19 catch so many people by surprise – and leave them unprepared – when science writers have been reporting on scientists who have been predicting a major zoonotic outbreak?
- What advice do science journalists and writers have for increasing science literacy?
Our panelists include Sheri Fink, David Quammen and Amy Maxmen
Sheri Fink, MD, PhD, is a correspondent at the New York Times where her in depth reporting on COVID-19 includes stories of impact on patients and healthcare workers from the inside of hospitals. Fink is a former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, and a Pulitzer Prize recipient for medical and healthcare reporting. Her work includes articles on the West Africa Ebola crisis, and books about the healthcare consequences of Hurricane Katrina and medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
David Quammen is the author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, and two other widely acclaimed books about Ebola, SARS, and AIDS. He writes about science, nature and travel for National Geographic, Harpers, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and Outside magazines. His most recent article in The New Yorker was titled, "The Warnings: Why we should have known to prepare for COVID-19."
Amy Maxmen, PhD is a senior, U.S. based reporter for Nature. She has reported extensively from Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on frontlines of Ebola outbreaks. In recent weeks, she has reported on failures in programs to test for the disease, and how countries with less resources, including Nigeria, Peru, Kenya and El Salvador, are trying to avoid coronavirus disasters. Other stories include treatment with blood from coronavirus survivors, and the spread of the disease in homeless shelters. Maxmen’s work has also appeared in Wired, National Geographic, the New York Times and Newsweek.