Journalists sought for personal help by the Covid-19 curious. Calling a hospital to see if a bed is available for a Covid-19 patient is not part of the work of Chauncy Glover on television news. And neither does it direct the viewer online to find a place to be vaccinated.
He has done both, and he is not alone. Audiences and readers across the country reach out to journalists for help during the coronavirus epidemic, and many are responding.
Glover said that now they are doing more than they could ever imagine. He also said that they have to be smart about these topics. They need to know more and for most people, it may be life or death.
It started at Glover last spring, when he went down with Covid-19 and told his story to KTRK-TV viewers. By phone, email and text, he had many questions after returning to work: How was it? Should I be worried if I have this symptom? What did you do during the separation so that you would not go crazy?
One observer described the symptoms that prompted Glover to suggest that she go to the hospital, and anchors followed.
During the past month, people have often been asked how to get vaccinated. Southern California Public Radio, which has an aggressive public outreach program, had 275 questions about this over the past two days last week, said Ashley Alvarado, director of public relations.
The audience also asked Alvarado’s team about the benefits of unemployment, whether they should suspend the family marriage or not or whether it was illegal to perform a funeral service for a deceased relative.
A former journalist, Alvarado often advises journalists on potential issues through his or her hearing department. Similarly, questions posed by medical expert and medical journalist Lisa Krieger are a feature of consumer traits and tips published in the Mercury News of San Jose, California, and in partner newspapers in the Bay Area News Group.
CC Davidson-Hiers, a journalist for the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida, has lost track of how many applications she has received, many from older students who are unable to register online.
It changed abruptly from last year, when his inbox was filled with vitriol from people calling him a scoundrel or a scoundrel trying to scare people, just because he was writing about Covid-19.
Now, he sends email links and suggestions to readers who contact him. When he receives calls, he will sit in lines and walk with people through the process while fighting the internet.
“I really enjoy doing it,” said Davidson-Hiers. “I have to look at how it stands. It’s something we all face – the pressure of this epidemic and the stress of it all. ”
Alvarado disrupts the work time of callers and similarly monitors the mental health of colleagues who hear traumatic experiences over and over again.
Several of the people Krieger spoke to were simply grateful to hear the other person, instead of talking to the machines and causing the calls to be discarded, or the direction of the divisive online experience.
Krieger spent nights and weekends replying to messages. He speaks to church groups and his newspaper has launched online conferences. He realizes that his first responsibility is to report and write news, but he said the administration supported his efforts to help students.
He said that this is the time to pay for them and that these are very loyal students and they need them. The least they can do is return their calls and emails.
Glover spent a lot of time trying to convince people in the Black Houston community that vaccines were safe. He met with serious skepticism, including people who despised Trump’s vaccine. She and her colleague Mayra Moreno held city hall meetings aimed specifically at Black and Latin residents.
Alvarado is similarly trying to break down cultural barriers, and sends a common message of coronavirus news to offline audiences.
Glover said that for him, it’s rewarding and that one works hard to become a voice to which people turn and trust what you say. To him, that is the journalist’s main goal – which is trust.
Davidson-Hiers often directs people to help themselves. But on two occasions – once for someone who did not have internet and another for someone who was lost on how to use it – he set up vaccinations for students.
In retrospect, he was shocked for moral reasons. Journalists are trained to watch and report, not to get involved in their own affairs.
Kathleen Culver who Is the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin said that there is nothing wrong with doing your best to help other people with information. But it is wise to avoid situations in which you read someone’s medical records, or make specific medical appointments or recommendations, he said.
What if something goes wrong?
“I make sure I stay within my limits,” Glover said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with helping people navigate the website. I don’t pick people up and take them to the doctor or to the hospital.”
While there is more work involved, Sanie’s Krieger and many of his colleagues are excited to find another way to connect their media organizations with the communities they serve.
He also said that in recent years they have been told that journalism is dying and out of date. And that It’s a pleasure to be a comfort to students and to give them information they can’t find elsewhere. It’s also very exciting and why they were in this business.