How local news outlets are covering COVID-19


By Emilie LutostanskiDirector, Local News Resource Center

Local news organizations are covering COVID-19 in ways that interactively serve their communities and ensure the distribution of factual information — and examples of helpful, high quality coverage abound.

Kristen Hare from Poynter shares a collection of coverage from around the U.S. local news scene; Nieman Lab explored of the surge of COVID-19 products including newsletters; and Stefanie Murray writes about how journalists are collaborating for improved information sharing.

We’ve gathered some examples of creative and engaging ways local news media are providing coronavirus coverage, including some provided by LION Publishers.

New products and coverage

KPRC did a Facebook Live with the local government health official and then posted the FAQ from the interview to their site. Building even more engaging and self-quarantine-friendly content, one of the station’s meteorologists read “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” on Facebook Live to help entertain kids stuck at home, and KPRC invited followers to submit entries into a community gallery of artwork celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Like many local news organizations, Dallas Morning News launched a popup newsletter covering coronavirus and promoted signup through Instagram Stories.

The network of Eater brands (Vox Media) in places like Austin and Detroit is creating story streams that track the impact COVID-19 is having on the local restaurant industry.

Long Beach Post News has a live blog that keeps “everything in a unified place, but with the ability to independently social each entry as if it was a separate story.”

FAQs and landing pages

WAMU provided a Hearken-powered FAQ for readers to help explain misconceptions about coronavirus in Washington. They’re also working on a guide for their audience to finding remote mental health care and guidance.

VTDigger has a coronavirus landing page with the latest numbers, live updates and recent reporting.

Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel shared a similar topic page and live blog of all coronavirus-related content, plus a useful reminder for readers to “rely on trusted health authorities” for reliable health information.

Crosscut’s Hannah Weinberger and Anne Christnovich are answering reader questions and compiling them into a useful FAQ.

Virtual engagement and social media

The LA Times has launched a popup Instagram account related to coronavirus coverage with reporting from journalists in California and around the world

Potomac Local News used Facebook Live for an exclusive interview with a medical professional about preparations and treating COVID-19. This format can work well when staff is working remotely.

NBC News launched a Facebook group for related coverage, which could be a real opportunity for local news organizations to step in as the authority and quash false information.

There are signs of COVID-19 coverage fatigue, especially on social media. At Education NC, they are sharing a daily Twitter thread with what’s new, but also circulating evergreen content unrelated to the virus.

This list is regularly updated. Reach out to the Local News Resource Center to submit the good work you see.