Journalism faculty issues statement on student reporting during COVID-19 outbreak
The Media School’s journalism faculty issued a statement today about changes in expectations for coursework in reporting classes during the coronavirus public health emergency.
The statement, which was emailed to all journalism majors, strongly discourages “student use of close physical communication in reporting projects” in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation of maintaining a 6-foot distance from others during the outbreak. It advises students that reporting that does not adhere to CDC recommendations will not be accepted or graded.
“Our experiential learning approach has always included student reporting for classroom exercises,” said James Kelly, director of the journalism unit. “We want to ensure that our students know their success in the classroom does not require them to jeopardize their health. There are safe ways to report during this crisis and we are instructing them about how it is done.”
The full statement is:
To safeguard our students and the public during this time of public health emergency, the journalism program in The Media School at Indiana University will not require the use of and strongly discourages independent student use of close physical communication in reporting projects. Reporting assignments from faculty will encourage the use of technology that physically separates students from those providing information and insight, including telephone, email and online tools. Visual and observational reporting should be done only in accordance with the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control that individuals observe at least a six-foot social distance. Reporting that does not adhere to CDC recommendations — however they may evolve — will not be accepted or graded. We urge our students to put the safety of their sources on equal footing with their own safety and the safety of our community.
Kelly recommends the following resources for safe reporting practices:
- CDC recommendations
- Committee to Protect Journalists Safety Advisory
- Student Press Law Center FAQ
- Society of Professional Journalists Toolbox
Kelly praised student journalists at the Indiana Daily Student newspaper and the Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism, and those working for professional publications for exercising caution in the way they are interacting with sources while covering the crisis.
“This is a unique learning opportunity for student journalists,” Kelly said. “Whether your own health allows you to report or not, careful observation of how professional and student journalists are covering the outbreak is instructive.”