President Donald Trump and members of the Coronavirus Task Force speak to members of the press 26 February 2020. Source: The White House/Flickr. Public domain.

Coronavirus: Responsible reporting and ethics

Last updated: 11 March 2020

This page provides a selection of guidelines and discussions produced by First Draft on reporting disinformation around coronavirus and other topics ethically and responsibly, as well as a curated list of other resources to help you navigate potential issues covering what the WHO has called an ‘infodemic’.

Tips for reporting on coronavirus and slowing the spread of misinformation

Misinformation loves a vacuum. All around the world, people have been trying to find answers about symptoms, cures, spread, and anything else on how the coronavirus might affect them.

News organisations and journalists have a vital role to play here. First Draft has collected tips and pointers for responsibly reporting the story, based on interviews with health and science reporters, health professionals and journalism professors, our existing training materials, and several excellent coronavirus reporting guides.

You can read an in-depth exploration of the issues here.

 

Additional resources for responsible reporting on coronavirus

This list of external resources and guides from will be regularly updated

First Draft’s essential guide to responsible reporting in an age of information disorder

The online world has fundamentally changed how everyone gets their information, and with it thrown. Crucial to how news organisations cover the issue of disinformation is the issue of amplification: not spreading a hoax or lie to a wider audience in the act of debunking it. This Essential Guide from First Draft, first published in October 2019, looks at some of the latest thinking around covering extremism, conspiracy theories, manipulated pictures and videos, as well as best practice for headlines, SEO and social media.

First Draft’s essential guide to understanding information disorder

The issues affecting how people get information online go further than just “fake news”, taking in a range of different motivations, forms and sources. Claire Wardle first worked through these concepts of information disorder for a Council of Europe report in 2017 and revisited them in this Essential Guide.