Best practices for Alaska newsrooms during coronavirus outbreak

Updated March 24, 2020 – To protect our Alaska journalism workforce and the public, Alaska Press Club asks members to be aware of the guidance and instructions from local officials and how our actions could potentially impact our own health and the health of others. Thank you all for the work you are doing for our communities. Please let us know if there are ways Alaska Press Club can support your work during this coronavirus outbreak by emailing alaskapressclubinfo@gmail.com

Alaska Press Club strongly encourages newsrooms to adopt the following temporary practices:

NEWSROOM HEALTH & SAFETY

  • Newsroom leaders should work to find ways reporters can work from home, especially higher risk individuals. The CDC indicates that older people, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions are considered higher risk of infection. 
  • Managers should also consider asking employees — especially those who have recently traveled — to work from home.
  • (Update March 24) Managers should assist staff in accessing the equipment they need to do their jobs as they are working from home.   
  • Reporters should not be compelled to work when they are sick.
  • Assist staff with a work plan that accommodates their family concerns. Avoid bringing children into the newsroom.
  • Supervisors should insist reporters conduct remote interviews whenever possible. 
  • Consider closing news organization offices to the public. 
  • Nationally, there have been incidents of racist attacks against certain nationalities. When assigning stories, increased levels of hostility and prejudice should be considered. 
  • Make sure all reporters have access to soap and supplies to disinfect their equipment.
  • Discuss what plans your management team has in place in the event a reporter or reporters develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. 

FIELD TIPS

    • Every time a reporter is going to interact with the general public, especially in a hospital or other healthcare setting, managers should talk through a plan with the reporter about risks and what precautions should be taken
    • Reporters should avoid traveling on public transportation. If you must use public transportation, make sure to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol on hands when embarking and disembarking. Also avoid ride shares and taxi cabs when possible.
    • Reporters on assignment should not set equipment on the floor and should be mindful of setting it on any surface.
    • Visual journalists should attempt to maintain at least 6 feet distance from subjects. 
    • Use directional microphones from a safe distance rather than clip mics. Disinfect the mic sponge covers in hot water after use.
    • Disinfect gear, pen and cell phones immediately after returning from an assignment. 

GENERAL ETIQUETTE

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. 
  • Wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap. Use anti-bacterial gel or wipes if hot water and soap are not available, but always follow this up with a hot water and soap wash as soon as possible.
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding close contact (at least 6 feet distance), especially with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients or anyone at higher risk of infection. 

 

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COVID-19 Reporting Resources

Kenai Peninsula Classification of cases: The Homer News asked DHSS to further clarify where cases were if a patient lives in an area too small to be specifically listed. DHSS released this spreadsheet, showing which communities are classified as the North and South Peninsula, and their population.