Reporting and Covid-19: Tips for Journalists

Learning from Past Pandemics: Covering Ebola

April 2, 2020

Guest: Jina Moore, Freelance writer, reporter, producer

As one of the first reporters to file stories about the Ebola virus, Jine Moore arrived on the scene at a time when most people were talking about vectors, not people. This meant she had to come up with strategies to report and survive with very little support.


A valuable fixer may be one of, if not the, most important relationship for a reporter filing from a warzone or from other dangerous places. 

Reading the landscape 

Jina’s sensitivity to people she interviews resonates in her stories. This can mean making on the spot decisions to hold an interview outside of someone’s house so they can speak openly, without worrying about their children listening in.

It’s important to stay aware of the fine line between personal safety and being respectful, and to remind yourself that the personal protective equipment you may have access to is likely unavailable to the people going through the crisis.

The learning curve for reporters covering dangerous circumstances can mean not always making the safest choices, at least initially. This is an issue that reporters covering Covid-19 and future pandemics will likely be discussing and grappling with for a very long time. 

Ethical concerns: A veteran health crisis reporter’s internal check list

  • Are you taking advantage of the misery of others?

  • Are there ways to advance the story?

  • What is life like for survivors? 

  • Adopt a familiar, perhaps mandatory lens that magnifies, maintains and fortifies relationships. The most important takeaway for a source is how they feel about their encounter with the journalist.

Look for tide-turning moments in the crisis

What changes? Can you find someone who can explain what that change means? Are there inherent systems – a dialectic of sorts – between the crisis and the story?