What it’s like to report on the pandemic

| By Trevor, 5th grade | April 2020 … Pam Belluck is a health and science writer for The New York Times. She was part of a New York Times team awarded a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. Ebola is a virus that in 2014-15 infected more than 28,000 people and caused more than 11,300 deaths in West Africa. Ms. Belluck is currently covering the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Belluck said in a recent interview that she tries to write on topics that haven’t been covered yet by other media or that she can help explain what is happening from a medical perspective. Ms. Belluck said she doesn’t give her opinions in stories because she is focused on presenting the truth.  She isn’t an opinion writer. She also thinks the readers should come to their own conclusions.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Belluck said it’s difficult for her to get “on the ground” and interview people face-to-face. However, for some stories, it’s worth the risk of conducting in-person interviews, she said. But she takes recommended precautions to reduce the risk.

Ms. Belluck said she goes out to interview people, “when it really is important to try to illustrate the story in a more powerful way.”

She said she makes sure her information is accurate by doing a lot of reporting, cross checking, and finding multiple sources and data that are credible.

Her basic reporting routine hasn’t changed during the pandemic, except the stories are now changing much faster than normal, she said. For instance, she will get up in the morning thinking about writing one story, but end up working on a different story.

Editor’s note: Trevor’s interview with Ms. Belluck will be shown during Healthy NewsWorks’ 2020 Book Reveal—a virtual event in celebration of kids asking questions and the launch of our ninth book. The FREE online event is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. Learn more and register here.


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