RTDNA's Shelley Cites Members for Virus Coverage

Radio Television Digital News Association president Dan Shelley has sent a thank you note to his members for their ongoing coronavirus coverage efforts.

"Despite incredible challenges, despite tremendous personal sacrifice and despite the risks to you personally from the COVID-19 virus, you are doing your jobs," Shelley wrote in a letter. 

RTDNA is doing more than just praising its members. "The organization is also gathering resources and best practices from newsrooms across the country and sharing them," said a spokesperson. "They are vital health, safety and reporting guidelines meant to keep journalists safe and journalism strong." 

The Committee to Protect Journalists has also issued a guidebook for virus coverage given that journalists are covering areas with outbreaks and are on the front lines, and in harms way, when covering the virus from such places as medical or isolation facilities or quarantine zones.  

Meanwhile, as recently as Sunday (March 15) the President continued his attacks on the media as "fake and corrupt," citing their reporting on a Google coronavirus web site test in California. 

Shelley's letter is reprinted below. 

Dear Fellow Journalists: 

Thank you. 

Despite incredible challenges, despite tremendous personal sacrifice and despite the risks to you personally from the COVID-19 virus, you are doing your jobs. 

The communities where you live, and work owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. 

You are working hard every day to provide critical health and public safety information that your viewers, listeners and readers need. You are passing along crucial public health alerts and other official communications indispensable to the decisions people must make as this disease spreads across every continent.

You are enabling preparedness rather than panic. You are combating mis- and disinformation with your constant efforts to seek and report the facts about an unprecedented situation. I also know that you are asking tough questions of our leaders to get the best version of the truth that is obtainable. Do not heed the words of anyone telling you anything different. 

I know the hours you are working are long. I know the conditions under which you are working are trying. I know that while you are working hard to meet the multiple deadlines you face every day, you are also worried even more about your family, your loved ones and your friends – not to mention your own health. 

Most of us got into journalism to serve the public. Now more than ever your public service is important. 

Stay motivated, stay safe and continue asking questions and reporting stories that will our communities get through this time of uncertainty. 

RTDNA will be working each day – from our own homes to model best practices – to support you in this effort. We are collecting tips and resources to help strengthen your reporting and your safety efforts. 

We have created a living Coronavirus and the Newsroom Guide to share best practices from newsrooms across the country. 

What you do for the public every single day is important. What you do for the public now is saving lives. 

So again, Thank you. 

Stay healthy.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.