The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine promises to be the story of 2021. It’s a sign of hope as the U.S. approaches a year of the coronavirus pandemic, but just weeks into the effort, many areas are struggling to reach their vaccination goals. Here are five ideas any student publication can take and make their own.
Is your state or county having issues with vaccine rollout? Have vaccines been distributed as planned, or have there been logistical issues? The Washington Post’s vaccine tracker is a helpful way to get a state-level view of how many vaccine doses have been delivered and administered.
How will your school handle vaccinations for medical students, nursing students and others who work in health care? How does their place in line compare to other health care workers? If they’ve gotten vaccines, what was their experience like?
What questions can you answer for your student audience? Consider writing an explainer or FAQ-style piece to answer common questions about vaccine access and debunk misinformation. Be a voice of reason for your audience: Yes, you can still test positive for COVID-19 after receiving your first vaccine dose. Yes, it’s normal for a small proportion of people to have adverse reactions to a vaccine. (Beware of attention-grabbing headlines like this one from Reuters.)
How will vaccines affect the next school year? Is your school or district considering requiring students to be vaccinated to live on campus? Will it mandate vaccination for faculty or staff? Your school may not want to answer these questions, but at public schools, remember the power of public records requests to access emails and other internal communications.
How is your school preparing for wider vaccine availability? When vaccines are more broadly available, will students be able to get vaccines at on-campus health centers? Will your school have clinics for distribution?
Resources for vaccination coverage
- Vaccine tracker (Washington Post)
- What journalists need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine (Politifact/Poynter)
- Free, medically accurate, inclusive vaccine stock photos (Self)
- Panel on COVID-19 vaccination and distribution (Association of Health Care Journalists)
One story worth reading
The Kansas City Star published a special project in December examining “the story of a powerful local business that has done wrong” by Black residents: the newspaper itself. Reporters examined the Star’s archives and compared its coverage of significant events to Kansas City’s Black newspapers, finding reporting that furthered stereotypes and ignored violence against communities of color. “It’s been an education for us, and yet it’s impossible to acknowledge every failure or bad decision or mangled assignment,” editor Mike Fannin wrote. (The Los Angeles Times’ opinion section published a similar project last year, and it’s also worth a read.)
Opportunities and trainings
- A housekeeping note: I’m no longer updating The Lead’s summer 2021 internship database because Poynter has launched its own! Bookmark this internship database for paid journalism and communications internships around the country.
- Enter your best investigative work in the IRE Awards’ student categories by Jan. 10.
- College students, enter your best work in SPJ’s Mark of Excellence Awards by Jan. 12.
- NPR is hosting its annual Student Podcast Challenge plus a new College Edition.
- High school students, enter The New York Times’ student review contest by Jan. 26.
- High school juniors, apply for the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference for an all-expenses-paid conference and $1,000 scholarship. Applications are due Feb. 1.
💌 Most recent newsletter: The work student journalists are proudest of this year
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