The news and information landscape in the U.S. is more confusing than ever. Legitimate, balanced and professionally edited journalism is on its heels due to the decline of local newspapers and locally-produced radio.
Then, there’s the partisan-driven “news” operations online creating linkbait to enrich site owners by enraging folks to click through to get barraged with ads or other sales schemes. Along these lines are also the purely ideologically partisan or other bad actors who are put out one side of the story or disinformation to forward political fortunes or simply troll Americans to weaken our communal bonds.
Sometime after March 24, this post will become a standing page here at ohfarmersunion.org that will be updated as needed. For now, here’s a curated collection of where folks can get real information.
Reliable Government Sources of Corona Virus (COVID-19) Info
The state of Ohio has set up a page that is a catch-all of information from various state agencies and Gov. Mike DeWine. You will find information about statistics regarding confirmed cases, tips and guidance to stay healthy, the governor’s executive orders and other pandemic guidelines for all Ohioans and individual groups as well as info for business and consumers.
The state of Ohio has also set up a hotline to answer citizen questions. This is being managed by the Ohio Dept. of Health: 1-833-427-5634.
As of March 24, 2020, Gov. DeWine and Ohio Health Dept. Director Dr. Amy Acton are giving live-streamed daily updates for Ohio. You can stay on top of the schedules for these news conferences and watch them live or recordings after the fact at The Ohio Channel. Some Ohio local television stations are carrying these news conferences live.
Nationally, the best general source of information from the federal government is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Corona Virus-COVID-19 Resource page. CDC’s page is a great resource for staying on top of what experts know about symptoms to look for and preparedness guidelines for various communities from senior citizens to health care professionals.
Internationally, the United Nations-afilliated public health organization is the World Health Organization. Their Corona Virus resource page has a lot of information in the context of the worldwide nature of the disease. Their library of recent news conferences and their daily “Situation Reports” are good indicators of where we’re at in the worldwide battle. There are also areas to check up on specific countries and a dashboard that’s a one page snapshot of maps and statistics.
Ag-related Corona Virus Updates
- Information for Veterinarians
- ODA Laboratories
- Ohio USDA Farm Service Agency – As of March 24, 2020, Ohio FSA is continuing to ask that farmers call their local office before coming in for service due to health concerns and limiting the number of people in the offices at one time.
- On this page, the USDA has information primarily related to conducting business with USDA and FSA offices during the outbreak.
- If you want general information on agriculture and food regarding the outbreak, this page at USDA’s main site has FAQs on a variety of topics.
Reliable News Sources for Corona Virus: Ohio and National
Sources on this list that normally are pay-walled, but have suspended their paywalls for Corona Virus coverage (as of March 24, 2020).
- Daily updates from the Statehouse News Bureau, a group of radio and TV journalists who provide reporting for Ohio’s public TV and radio stations are being carried by many of Ohio’s public TV stations daily. The Ohio Channel is a partner. Look to the Ohio Channel’s Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates. In Columbus, for instance, WOSU has aired these updates around the PBS NewsHour or before Gov. DeWine’s news conferences.
- Speaking of the PBS NewsHour, it remains a great resource where considerable time is being spent on reporting about the virus and government response without all the cable news opinion panels.
- The Columbus Dispatch is covering not only Columbus and Central Ohio, but state government-related news about the pandemic.
- Dayton Daily News is covering Dayton, Montgomery County and Miami Valley with Laura Bischoff in Columbus covering state government.
- Cleveland.com has the best from The Plain Dealer and their own team of journalists. Cleveland.com also has reporters in Columbus covering state government.
- Cincinnati Enquirer has southwest Ohio covered and also a Statehouse reporter in Columbus.
- There are still several smaller cities and regions with daily newspapers in Ohio, although their numbers have dwindled. Check out your local paper’s website, and if you can afford it, subscribe.
- The news coverage of the Corona Virus pandemic is free from both the Washington Post and The New York Times. Yes, their opinion pages contain pieces that you may not agree with, but their news coverage is still well-edited and stories are reported by journalists who do not write opinion pieces.
Info for Nerds: Deep Dive with Universities
The public health programs and research at Johns Hopkins University are world-renowned. JHU has gathered their Corona Virus response generally on this page. Another public service they are providing is the constantly updated pandemic data dashboard and map courtesy of JHU’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease and Research Policy (CIDRAP), not only aggregates the latest scientific papers and research on the virus, but part of their mission is essentially news reporting for the public on issues of infectious disease. As an aside, CIDRAP is also an important resource for the midwest and the nation regarding Chronic Wasting Disease which continues to spread through deer herds.
What About Social Media?
Well … you’ve got to be your own editor regarding links being posted around Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That means: consider the source. Is the source a well-edited traditional or online publication that adheres to basic journalistic standards and ethics in news reporting? If it’s a particularly “shocking” story, is it covered by other outlets as well?
An example of this: The Drudge Report has a headline that links to the Daily Mail in the UK. The Daily Mail is one step up the food chain from the National Enquirer. Would you base decisions that affect yourself or your family on what you read in the National Enquirer? The Daily Mail sometimes covers the same subjects that respected news organizations cover. If a story from a source like them alerts you, see how it’s covered (or if it’s covered) by major newspapers or TV outlets in the U.S.
For a good read from an Ohio State University expert on social media and disinformation in light of the pandemic, check this out.