Tell us what you need to cover COVID-19
A short survey to help us develop more support for you and your colleagues covering the pandemic
For the next several months, OpenNews and Big Local News will work with local journalists to develop resources their newsrooms can use to better cover COVID–19. We’ve already been experimenting with story guides, peer mentoring, and collecting and cleaning datasets—what should further support look like? We don’t know yet! But you can help us figure it out.
We’re starting this project with a short survey, and we’d love for you to take a few moments to tell us how you’re helping cover the pandemic, and what kind of support would help you most.
Sharing your thoughts should take less than 15 minutes, and will help us identify gaps we can work together to fill. We want to know about the information your communities are missing, what stories you’d tell if you could, and the roadblocks you’re running into as you report on COVID–19. We know that existing datasets cover cases and deaths, housing, jails, local health policies, government spending and services … but what’s missing? What could be easier to use?
What you share will help us build a plan to:
- Collect and develop datasets, working with you and your newsrooms to create, clean, and analyze what you need
- Get stories published, by supporting the reporting you’re already doing in communities across the country
- Document and share, because effective collaboration serves stories beyond COVID–19
This project is made possible by support from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and the resources we develop will add to the capacity of a community already working collectively during this pandemic. We’re excited to create programs that address real needs, not just the gaps we see already. The guidance you give us through this survey will help us take those next steps.
Resources that already exist
We also want this project to make existing resources more accessible. Here are just some of the projects you can start using in your reporting right away.
- A team of public-media developers open-sourced a dashboard that shows COVID data alongside local health indicators
- A team of current and former JSK fellows is organizing a public-records campaign and algorithmic investigations
- The Big Local team is cleaning and hosting economic, school, housing, and health data you can use to provide context
- The Big Local team compared the four major datasets on COVID cases and deaths to help you choose the right one for your work
- Journalists are writing step-by-step story recipes to help you jump-start your own local data stories
- Journalists are gathering in community spaces like the Lonely Coders Club, Journalists of Color, and News Nerdery Slacks to share advice and encouragement.
That’s all work we’ll keep building on, and there’s so much more we can do together. Let us know what you think!
Ryan Pitts is a developer and journalist in Spokane, WA. He’s the director of network development for OpenNews, a nonprofit organization that helps newsroom developers, designers, and data analysts collaborate on technology and support each other as a community. (OpenNews also publishes this website.) Ryan is a board member and developer at Census Reporter, and was the senior editor for digital media at The Spokesman-Review.