Reporting and Covid-19: Tips for Journalists

Watchdog Reporting on the Pandemic

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Guest: Aaron Glantz, Senior Reporter, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

Aaron Glantz’s message to reporters is straightforward: Lean into what you know best, and pivot immediately to use your knowledge and sources for Covid-19 coverage. His most in-depth beats are the housing market and covering veterans.

Reporting about the bail out

The economy is ideal for what Gantz calls the “local-national virtual circle”. For example, the only way individuals can know how much financial relief they’ll get is to find out, now, if the federal government owns their mortgage loan or their landlord’s loan.

Report on who wins and who loses financially, and which sectors of the economy are getting the most help. Also look into the efficacy of systems set up so that people can get relief – are they working?

Take a look at insurance – do life insurance policies have pandemic exclusions?

Veterans and Covid-19

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest healthcare system in the country. And though Glantz says the VA doesn’t like to give out a lot of information, reporters can go to their local VA hospitals and find employees and patients who are willing to talk. He also suggests talking to veteran service organizations like the American Legion about what they are seeing, what vets are talking about and where they are going.

Glantz says the VA has done a tremendous job in reducing veteran homelessness in the last ten years. He says this was basically accomplished by giving homeless vets housing vouchers and access to a social worker. Find the people within the VA who have been responsible for that success, and take advantage of their expertise while covering Covid-19.

Typically, during an economic downturn, demand at the VA goes up. If a veteran loses employer-based health insurance, he or she may turn to the VA for healthcare benefits. And the VA may or may not have the resources to handle that increased demand. 

Veteran’s Mental Health Care

Reporters should ask local VA officials what kind of social work is continuing to take place. Are veterans who normally come to individual or group therapy sessions still being contacted? Are alternative treatment methods, perhaps via phone or video conference, being offered? What are the ramifications for veterans who put off elective healthcare?