We, the COVID-19 Working Group – New York (CWG–NY), aim to provide journalists and communication professionals with a guide to ensure accurate reporting and to mitigate stigma associated with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the associated disease COVID-19.
The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. As 2020 began, the virus spread across the globe, causing illness and death and leaving many countries with overwhelmed medical services, a significant lack of ventilators, and shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Public health guidance throughout these times has remained fluid. As with any momentous occasion in modern history, the world has relied on journalistic media to provide up-to-date, accurate information on the disease’s progression.
The media, which has experienced significant downsizing and economic strain in the past decade amid a shifting digital landscape, is racing to responsibly cover the pandemic. This alone is a significant challenge, compounded by the contexts of civil unrest, threats to the democratic process, intentional global disinformation campaigns, and the need for every individual and family— including those of members of the media—to attend to the interpersonal, economic, and health strains of this moment. COVID-19 has forever changed the world.
During these perilous times, it is imperative that those tasked with providing the populace with information do so in a manner that does not promote further fear and harm. Journalists and communication professionals have a social responsibility to provide accurate, well-sourced information, data, and perspectives, as free as possible from bias. Speaking to sources who are among those most affected by the pandemic, including those whose communities have the highest rates of infection and death, will bring important perspectives that are often overlooked.
Click on the link at the top of this article to access the Communications Guide.