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Journalists practice social distancing during a news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Jacob Javits Center that will house a temporary hospital in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, on March 24, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Editors’ checklist: Preparing for COVID-19 assignments

April 16, 2020 11:06 AM ET

This checklist was devised by HP Risk Management. HP Risk Management has been working closely with journalists to keep them safe as they cover the Covid-19 story. They also work closely with the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of CPJ Emergencies.

The following checklist enables commissioners and editors to understand how well prepared journalists and other media workers are as they cover the COVID-19 pandemic.

For additional safety information, please see CPJ’s Safety Advisory for covering the coronavirus outbreak.

Points to Consider

❏ Does the journalist fall into a higher risk category of vulnerability to COVID-19?

❏ Is the journalist residing with anyone from the higher risk category? Do they have any dependents living elsewhere, such as elderly relatives?

❏ Is the journalist experienced for the assignment in question? Have they been on any other comparable assignments in the past?

❏ Does the profile of the journalist raise the risk? Consider that outsiders have been attacked by scared locals in some countries/communities.

❏ Does the journalist have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gloves, disposable footwear, hazmat suits, safety goggles, and protective aprons?

❏ Do they know how to don/doff PPE safely and correctly to prevent cross contamination?

❏ Do they have access to other provisions such as soap and emergency supplies?

❏ Have you identified all local medical facilities and recorded the details?

❏ Have you discussed insurance, medical cover, and sick pay should the journalist contract the virus?

❏ Have you discussed the possibility of psychological or trauma-related stress, and the relevant support they can access?

❏ Have you discussed their digital security? Pay attention to the risks related to phishing emails, malicious apps and increased levels of trolling.

❏ Have you discussed the potential for retribution from government/non-state actors as a result of reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak?

❏ Have you securely recorded the emergency contacts and details of all staff being sent on the assignment?

❏ Does the journalist have the appropriate accreditation, press passes, or a letter indicating that they work for your organization?

❏ Is a contingency plan in place should they fall ill, or end up in a quarantine/lockdown zone for an extended period of time?