Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Getting to know the journalists covering COVID and climate science
Helen Branswell - STAT
Helen Branswell is the Senior Writer for infectious disease at STAT. She was interviewed for the OFID podcast for Open Forum Infectious Diseases in April 2020. I found this to be a very interesting interview and helped me to understand Branswell’s background and work. I learned that:
She is a very experienced journalist who has covered SARS, influenza, Ebola, Zika, and now mostly covers COVID-19. She is practically an expert in COVID-19 and works hard to stay on top of the research, which she compares to “standing out at [Niagara] Falls, trying to fill a glass of water.” The density, depth, importance and volume of preprints makes it difficult for her to review everything.
Everyone involved in COVID research is busy, so she finds it helpful when experts reply to emails. She has also found it helpful to attend press briefings from a group of health experts where they can address press questions efficiently. During normal times, she doesn’t like this briefing style because everyone gets the same quotes. But at the moment, it is helpful.
Her recent articles are listed here.
Leo Hickman - Carbon Brief
Leo Hickman, director and editor of Carbon Brief, was interviewed by Sherry Listgarten for Palo Alto Online. He explained:
Carbon Brief looks at complicated issues related to climate science and addresses them through in-depth, long-form articles. He hopes they can be a reference point online. It
Carbon Bbrief is read by many journalists, so Hickman hopes that they can be a reference point and affect mainstream media coverage of climate science.
They invest in topics that will have a long shelf life because it takes them a while to follow the story and do a comprehensive piece. They tend not to cover topics that won’t be of long-term interest.
Hickman said mentions that the most impactful articles usually have a human angle to them.
Gina Kolata - New York Times
In June, the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences interviewed alumni Gina Kolata, a science and medicine reporter for the New York Times. Kolata said:
It is challenging to cover COVID-19 because reporters can get caught up in endless detail. However, she strives it is important to keep the big picture in mind.
Having spent years at The Times, she knows many experts who she can trust and call on for comments or get feedback on story ideas.
Her goal as a journalist and scientist is, as she says, “to write stories so compelling that you can’t stop reading once you start.”
Meryl Kornfield - Washington Post
On August 3, Meryl Kornfield became a new member of the General Assignment desk at the Washington Post. Some information about her:
Kornfield began covering the pandemic for the GA on a temporary basis and then became full-time. Most of her articles are related to COVID.
She is often using experts in her reporting of breaking COVID-related research.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida.