November 18, 2020

Just look at these two charts from Axios and NewsWhip

(Axios, NewsWhip)

On the left, you will see that social media interactions on posts about the coronavirus have hit an all-time low while, on the right, COVID-19 cases hit an all-time high. This is a critically important moment when the public should be engaged. 

What’s going on? It could be that the public has tuned out news coverage that it considers to be alarmist. It could be that the coverage is the same bad news day after day.

My Poynter colleague Roy Peter Clark offers a dozen ways to make your pandemic coverage more interesting.

I glance at Google Trends every day while writing this column.

(Google Trends)

I look at see what people are searching for and then consider what I can offer that might help them in that search. On Tuesday, for example, people were really interested in how Dolly Parton had given money to the coronavirus vaccine testing that helped Moderna produce what appears to be a highly successful drug.  

You will also notice that the issue of curfews, which I addressed in today’s newsletter, is a big trending topic. And I am surprised that more local news sites do not list where drive-thru testing is going on. The one thing that would be really useful is if there was a way to display wait times at those testing sites. Maybe you could try a live traffic-cam kind of display showing the line at the testing sites.

This article originally appeared in Covering COVID-19, a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
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