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New Journalist’s Guide to COVID Data

The Radio Television Digital News Association has just published an informative and instructional guide to understanding COVID-19 data.

View guide

Today’s COVID social media environment has led to all manner of misinformation and misinterpretation of basic medical data terms used to track and quantify the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic.

Journalists have an obligation to understand COVID-related medical data when explaining numbers and providing context to news audiences.

As the RTDNA Code of Ethics suggests:

“Journalism requires more than merely reporting remarks, claims or comments. Journalism verifies, provides relevant context, tells the rest of the story and acknowledges the absence of important additional information.” - RTDNA Code of Ethics

Journalists will find the guide useful as it explains how data points are calculated, what they mean, and just as importantly for the audience, what data points do not mean.

Topic areas include:

  • Number of positive cases
  • Positivity rate
  • Infection rate
  • Hospitalizations
  • Recovered cases
  • Fatalities
  • Fatality rate

Additionally, RTDNA suggests journalists can find more helpful information about COVID data from these sources:

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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