Cursos Autodirigidos

Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future

Instructores:   Maryn McKenna

Produced in collaboration with the W.H.O., UNESCO and UNDP, this course helps journalists to improve their coverage of the pandemic. It's also offered in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

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Produced in collaboration with the W.H.O., UNESCO and UNDP, this course helps journalists to improve their coverage of the pandemic. It's also offered in French, Spanish and Portuguese. This self-directed course uses the content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the America's massive open online course (MOOC) titled "Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future." The four-week course took place from May 4 to May 31, 2020. We are now making the content free and available to students who took the course and anyone else who's interested in interested in acquiring new knowledge and resources to improve your coverage and understanding of the pandemic.

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The course was taught by Maryn McKenna. She created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes, readings, exercises, and more. This course is also available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

 The course materials are broken up into five modules:

As you review this resource page, we encourage you to watch the videos, review the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to overtime.

We hope you enjoy the materials. If you have any questions, please contact us at journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu.

About the Instructor

MarynMaryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University, where she teaches health and science writing and narrative. She is the author of the 2017 bestseller BIG CHICKEN: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats, which received the 2018 Science in Society Award and was named a best book of 2017 by Amazon, Smithsonian, Science News, Wired, Civil Eats, and other publications (and is published outside North America under the title Plucked) and the award-winning books Superbug and Beating Back the Devil. She appears in the 2019 documentary Resistance Fighters, which won top prizes at the Vancouver and Paris film festivals, and the 2014 U.S. documentary Resistance, and her 2015 TED Talk, "What do we do when antibiotics don't work any more?" has been viewed 1.8 million times and translated into 34 languages. She is a contributor for WIRED and writes for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, National Geographic, Mother Jones, Newsweek, NPR, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Slate, The Atlantic, Nature, and The Guardian, among other publications. She has received the 2019 AAAS-Kavli Gold Award for magazine writing, the 2019 John P. McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, the 2014 Leadership Award from the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, and the 2013 Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences. She was a Poynter Fellow in Journalism at Yale in 2018 and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in 2013-14. She lives in Atlanta.


Introduction to the course and the outline of topics


1. Welcome video

Watch Video   

2. Course syllabus



1. How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America by John Barry [Smithsonian Magazine]

2. Preparing for a Pandemic by W. Wayt Gibbs and Christine Soares [Scientific American]

3. How the Coronavirus Will Change Our Lives Forever [The Washington Post]

Where did COVID-19 come from?

 In this module you will learn:

the past history of pandemics and disasters in the 20th century, examining how the world responded to influenza, smallpox, polio and HIV, and will ask whether governments implemented plans they made to respond to future pandemics, and what was missed.

 Video classes

1. How did we get here?

Watch Video  Transcript  

2. Michael Osterholm

Watch Video  Transcript   

3. Sonia Shah

Watch Video  Transcript


1. The World Is Not Ready for the Next Pandemic by Bryan Walsh [TIME Magazine, 4 May 2017]

2. Medicine’s Long, Thin Supply Chain by Maryn McKenna [WIRED, 5 March 2018]

3. The WHO v coronavirus: why it can't handle the pandemic by Stephen Buranyi [The Guardian, 10 April 2020]


 Optional resources

Covering COVID-19 right now

 In this module you will learn to:

examine the unfolding of the 2020 pandemic in its first four months, addressing healthcare crises, international supply chains, and debates over social distancing and mask-wearing, with special attention to how governments with differing levels of resources have responded in different parts of the world. It will also address the importance of protecting freedom of expression and detecting and combating misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic.

 Video classes

1. The pandemic right now

Watch Video  Transcript

2. Interview with Sylvie Briand

Watch Video  Transcript

3. Interview with Kai Kupferschmidt

Watch Video  Transcript

4. Interview with Cristina Tard

Watch Video   Transcript


1. How the pandemic made this virologist an unlikely cult figure by Kai Kupferschmidt [Science, 28 April 2020]

2. For Ecuador’s Guayaquil, Tides of Death and Disappearance by Lise Josefsen Hermann [UNDARK, 22 April 2020]

3. How Journalists Can Address Mistrust in Pandemic Coverage and Help “Flatten the Curve"  by Melissa Bailey  [Nieman Reports]


 Optional resources

The hope for treatments and vaccines

 In this module you will learn to:

examine the competing claims for treatments or COVID-19, including drugs now on the market as well as those entering trials, and will explain the timeline to achieving a vaccine and an antibody test intended to prove immunity. It will also examine the role of hype and media bias in advancing and debunking some proposed treatments.

 Video classes

1. Searching for treatments and vaccines

Watch Video  Transcript

2. Interview with Julie Gerberding

Watch Video  Transcript 

3. Interview with Megan Molteni

Watch Video   Transcript

4. Interview with Gary Schwitzer

Watch Video  Transcript



 Optional resources

Coronavirus: The way forward

 This module will:

propose the most important story angles to be considered, across a number of beats, in the weeks, months, and two years from the current moment. It will also address the critical issue of journalists’ self-care as the emergency continues.

 Video classes

1. The Uncertain Future

Watch Video  Transcript

2. Interview with Thomas Frieden

Watch Video  Transcript  

3. Interview with Annalee Newitz

Watch Video  Transcript

4. Interview with Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva

Watch Video  Transcript

5. Interview with Bruce Shapiro

Watch Video  Transcript


1. All the things COVID-19 will change forever, according to 30 top experts  by Mark Sullivan, April 24, 2020 [Fast Company]

2. America And The New Geopolitics After Coronavirus by Murtaza Hussein, April 12, 2020 [The Intercept]

3. The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations  by Kim Stanley Robinson, May 1, 2020 [The New Yorker]

4. COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery [The United Nations Development Program]

5. Reporting and Covid-19: Tips for Journalists  [The Dart Center at Columbia University]


 Optional resources