Coronavirus round-up: how to protect your mental health while covering the outbreak and fighting the ‘infodemic’

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Edited by Marco Nurra

The 2020 International Journalism Festival #ijf20 has been cancelled


Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health. Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people’s mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. So how can we protect our mental health? Here are some advices.

The psychological toll of coronavirus coverage. Dr. Narine Yegiyan, a former journalist and current professor of communication at University of California, Davis, studies how human brains prioritize information in times of cognitive and emotional overload. Yegiyan recommends that news organizations slow down and attempt to provide respite and build trust by being a higher-level gatekeeper for information: doing the deeper, slower thinking that news consumers don’t have the time for.

How to stay sane while reporting on the coronavirus. While the coronavirus pandemic is anxiety-inducing for anyone, reporters, researchers and those reading up on Covid-19 every day to keep the public informed may be feeling the brunt of the information overload. So how can journalists reporting on the coronavirus outbreak do so sanely? The experts weigh in.

How journalists can fight stress from covering the coronavirus. 9 ways journalists can push back against the stress of an always-on story.

A guide to taking care of yourself and your newsroom in times of coronavirus. Eleven journalists worked together to write a guide that covers four main topics: general need-to-know info about coronavirus itself and what to do if you’re exposed to it; how to care for your own physical and emotional health as you cover the pandemic; caring for others, whether they’re your colleagues, reporters, or freelancers; and recommendations and tips for event planners.

7 ways to avoid misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic. PolitiFact has created a guide with seven ways to avoid falling for some of the most common falsehoods about epidemics like the coronavirus. 

Fighting the infodemic: The #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance. Led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance unites more than 100 fact-checkers around the world in publishing, sharing and translating facts surrounding the novel coronavirus.

Twitter to remove harmful fake news about coronavirus. Twitter will remove tweets that run the risk of causing harm by spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19, the company has said, after weeks of criticism that its policies on misinformation were too lax. Now, the social network says, it will be applying a new broader definition of harm to address content that “goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information”.

How are the social media platforms responding to the ‘infodemic’? On March 16, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube issued a statement saying they had joined forces to combat “fraud and misinformation about the virus”. So what are various platforms actually doing? This article will be updated regularly by First Draft with the latest news about the different measures.

Coronavirus and the emergency in content moderation. Facebook on Tuesday was blocking users from posting some legitimate news articles about the Covid-19 in what appeared to be a bug in its spam filters. “We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce,” the company’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, tweeted. “We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.”

9 lessons from Chinese journalists on covering COVID-19. Despite years of suppression, investigative reporting has somehow managed to survive in China. But the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked a new wave of Chinese muckraking. In the few months since the pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Chinese media appears to have produced more high-quality investigative reporting than it had done over the past several years.

How a blockbuster Washington Post story made ‘social distancing’ easy to understand. The article charts the course of a hypothetical virus called “simulitis” through a town of 200 people, who are represented by bouncing dots. It shows how something like the coronavirus spreads exponentially through network effects and illustrates the efficacy of “social distancing” — its strength is in its simplicity.

(Photo via The Washington Post)