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Mollie Muchna discusses how newsrooms can improve their trustworthiness through their coronavirus coverage.

402. Covering coronavirus in useful, trustworthy ways

In reality, there’s only one story in the U.S. these days, and every newsroom is trying to figure out the best way to cover it — the new coronavirus.

“People are consuming news at a much higher rate and relying on journalism more” as coronavirus cases begin to reach double, if not triple, digits in cities across the country, says Mollie Muchna, of the Arizona Daily Star and TrustingNews.org. “It presents a good opportunity (for newsrooms) to communicate their commitment to their community and to provide factual and up-to-date information. We’re doing this reporting for their physical health and the health of their community.” 

Instead of trying to relay every last detail and follow every breaking news lead, she suggests newsrooms consider taking a more focused approach, distilling the big events of the day in clear, easy to understand and quick to read bites. 

Muchna recently wrote about how newsrooms can demonstrate trustworthiness in their coronavirus coverage for TrustingNews.

“More isn’t always better,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily make people feel safe or informed. It can make them feel overwhelmed. Anything journalists can do to break down the news, whether it’s a newsletter or landing page that tells people what they need to know to get up to speed can be a great solution.” 

Some newsrooms are creating and sending out newsletters to provide additional information on how to stay safe. Others are updating a single page with the most important stories, so readers have one place to go to find out the day’s key information. 

“Chasing every single lead can be exhausting and can make coverage feel all over the place,” Muchna says. “If newsrooms can develop an overall plan and goals with their cover, centralized around their specific community, and then share that with their community. Let that be your guidepost.” 

It’s All Journalism Producer Michael O’Connell is joined this week by Mollie Muchna of TrustingNews.org and the Arizona Daily Star to discuss what newsrooms should be doing to provide useful, beneficial and trustworthy updates on coronavirus without overwhelming their audience.

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