Our readers have been so kind with encouraging notes and appreciation for our COVID-19 coverage. Here’s one that sums up why it’s so important: “I read the Globe every day for factual information. … We are grateful for this necessary work in tough times.”
Journalism has been declared an essential service by provincial governments, and maintaining the highest standards of accuracy and fairness, while continuing to challenge government leaders for more action and transparency, has never been more critical – both to save lives now and to safeguard our future.
It’s essential for you to have the best, most up-to-date information. Here are seven key points underpinning The Globe’s coverage:
1. Every statement must be tested and fact-checked. On social media, your friend might forward you some COVID-19 safety suggestions – like drinking hot water or another, more dangerous tip – but reputable and independent news organizations (which include most of those in Canada) will check with an acknowledged expert to see what’s true, and publish or broadcast only that.
2. Expertise matters in terms of who journalists interview. You might not know how journalism works, because unlike in the movies, so much of the work is kind of dull – reading documents, verifying facts and talking to multiple sources. But the goal is always to find the top expert with the most current information.
3. Expertise matters in terms of the journalists themselves. The Globe and Mail has a rich pool of experts writing and editing on public health, starting with our veteran public-health columnist, André Picard, who has spent more than 33 years covering health issues, starting with AIDS. (One reader wrote in to thank “Dr. Picard” for his leadership on the file, though André is not a doctor.)
4. Reporters cannot and must not just record what experts say. They must use their experience to ask probing questions about whether Canadians are being told what they need to know. In addition to Mr. Picard, who has been a leader in pressing for more action, The Globe’s long-time health reporters Carly Weeks, Kelly Grant and Wency Leung are steeped in the language of medicine and stay on top of all developments. They’ve also been leaders, talking to experts and pressing for more transparency on the number of COVID-19 tests that have been done and for any non-private details about those who’ve tested positive, while offering tips to help keep you safe. Also key to this team are veteran science writer Ivan Semeniuk, science and health editors Nicole MacIntyre and Hayley Mick, and our editorial writers, who every day urge more action and protection for you. Their standard must set the tone for all reporting.
5. Reputable news outlets have experience pulling together all angles of a big story, and you can see that reflected in The Globe, with coverage of the virus’s march around the world, stories on the people behind the news, positive pieces on how people are coping, answers to your frequently asked questions and critical information on the economy and markets.
6. Data to show you the facts. Globe readers ask me questions every day on the coronavirus dashboard, which includes graphics showing the latest testing data from across the country, and the number of cases in Canada and around the world. It’s updated three times daily by three of The Globe’s data specialists.
7. Our coverage started early – before the first Canadian case and well before many were writing about it – and it will continue long past this crisis. In January, Mr. Picard warned of a pandemic; so did Ms. Weeks and Nathan Vanderklippe, who was on the ground in China. He has been in isolation for months. So has our Rome-based European bureau chief, Eric Reguly, and now Globe correspondents around the world.
The Globe was built on strong coverage from beat, national and foreign-bureau reporters with years of experience in many fields. Whose work comes into the spotlight depends on the issue of the day. That’s the reason you’re seeing in-depth work that informs you while pushing for more answers.
Personally, I’m beyond grateful to be a Canadian journalist who doesn’t have to deal with political leaders who dismiss science and factual news coverage. Despite a sometimes adversarial relationship with the media, our leaders have recognized the role journalism plays in informing the public during this emergency, and they have wisely ceded much of the spotlight to public-health officials.
I’ve had a very few complaints from those who think our coverage was alarmist – but in fairness to them, that was earlier this month, when the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem so grave. In any case, we follow the science and the experts.
We know you value that, too. So please let me know if you want more data or more reporting, and any insights you have. It’s a critical time, and every angle must be covered. Please e-mail me with ideas and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org