Practical information

How can journalists continue to do their job of reporting the news, and at the same time protect their health and not spread the virus? What measures can media outlets take to safeguard their journalists both in the field and in news rooms? Tracker-19’s “practical info” section aims to provide media workers with advice on how to continue doing journalism in the best possible conditions during this public health crisis.

Limit the infection risks when out reporting


  • Give thought to what is the safest way for you to get to your reporting destination. Avoid using public transport during the rush hour. If you have to take public transport, avoid touching your face and disinfect your hands with an antibacterial gel as soon as you get out. If you are using your own vehicle, consider disinfecting it with an appropriate product. Disinfect the internal door handles, gear shift, steering wheel, radio, seats and vehicle keys.
  • To conduct interviews, use remote communication methods whenever possible – phone, social media, videoconferencing, etc. If you cannot conduct an interview remotely, remember to keep a safe distance (1m - 1.5m) from the person you’re interviewing, especially if they have symptoms, they are elderly or have health problems, they are in physical contact with someone who has symptoms, they are health professionals or they are working in high-risk locations.
  • Disinfect all your equipment with antibacterial wipes.
  • Wearing a face mask is not recommended if you don’t have any symptoms [1]. The recommended pratices are social distancing, washing your hands frequently and observing respiratory hygiene (coughing into your elbow, using single-use tissues, etc). For more information on wearing a mask, see the WHO website.
  • Wearing gloves is not recommended either, in the absence of symptoms [2]. Gloves can carry and transmit the virus so wearing them is pointless except in very specific situations (health professionals conducting tests or carrying out other actions with potential risks).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. If you cannot wash your hands while out reporting, use an antibacterial gel or wipes but remember to wash your hands with soap and hot water as soon as you can once you have finished.

The fact that you are covering the COVID-19 crisis could be a source of concern and stress for members of your family. Talk to them about the risks and their concerns. Explain to them the preventive measures you are taking while out reporting and make a point of communicating with the regularly.

If you are working from home (teleworking), if you have been ordered to stay at home or if you are self-isolating at home after reporting outside, follow these recommendations:

Recommendations in French: Prendre soin de votre santé mentale et comportementale pendant un confinement

Recommendations in English are available at the Frontline Defenders  site.

 

Recommendations for news organizations

 

  • Make sure your staff has appropriate, up-to-date information on how to protect themselves from infection.

  • Regularly remind your staff of the need to disinfect equipment before they go out reporting and when they return, and make sure they have the material needed for this purpose (antibacterial wipes or gel).

  • Make sure that every member of your staff has a list of emergency contacts. This list may include the general emergency number (in France: 15), their primary healthcare doctor’s number and the numbers of the health authorities (in France: the General Health Directorate, the Regional Health Agency and the COVID-19 hotline: 0 800 130 000)

  • Stay in constant touch with your reporting teams, agree on times when you communicate to check that everything is OK, and make sure to be always reachable in case there are problems.

  • Discuss the emotional risks associated with covering this crisis with your staff. Their concerns and the stress they may be suffering should be taken seriously.

  • Rotate your personnel between duties with a high stress load and duties that are less stressful.


Resources


Resources in French



Resources in English

 

  • DART Center: English and Chinese-language resources for journalists covering the coronavirus epidemic, including tips on covering disease, interviewing victims and survivors, and working with colleagues exposed to traumatic events.




  • The WHO has two webpages that are essential for understanding the COVID-19 pandemic, a general one, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public,” and one that addresses myths about the virus, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters.”