News outlets have never seen a story like this.
They are used to covering major stories like war, elections and natural disasters. But the coronavirus is different. Journalists have become part of this story because every human on earth is a part of this story.
That’s especially seen in New York City, a global hot spot for COVID-19. There, The New York Times is tasked with covering the devastating local part of the story, as well as its impacts around the country and world.
I asked New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet what has been the key to the Times’ coverage, especially with virtually everyone working remotely?
Baquet said he could go through all the litany of journalistic steps and planning to cover this once-in-a-generation story, but there was something more important than all that.
“I think the best thinking we have tried to convey is to remind people of the obvious — we are all actually living the story we are covering,” Baquet said. “We all have relatives and friends whose lives have been upended. Our own lives have been profoundly altered. That should make us empathetic and give us story ideas. Most importantly of all, it should remind us that we have to take care of ourselves and our own families.”
Be sure to check out my daily Poynter Report newsletter Thursday morning, as I talked to some of the top newspaper editors in the country about the key to covering coronavirus — including The Washington Post’s Marty Baron, the Los Angeles Times’ Scott Kraft and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Audrey Cooper, who said her paper has been practicing for this kind of event for years.
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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer. Email him at email@example.com or tweet to him at @TomWJones.