Phillip Meylan - Mar 24, 2020

The Most Credible Journalists on COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. passed an inflection point in the last 2 weeks. The number of articles published about the global pandemic went from hundreds a day to a weekday average of roughly 1,400 articles. Spending endless hours reading COVID-19 updates quickly loses its marginal utility and can drive our underlying levels of anxiety, so knowing where to go for the best coverage is essential. Early on in the crisis, we looked at which outlets had the most credible stories; this week, we wanted to see which specific journalists you can rely on for credible, timely information—real updates on the global pandemic that actually matter. 

The majority of the highly-rated authors that make this content are experts in health and science and have demonstrated histories of covering such topics. They have the credentials to match, including PhDs, decades of experience writing about communicable diseases, and a finger on the pulse of many interrelated health and science issues. These are the people from whom you should get your COVID-19 updates.

How It Works

The Facutal's browser extension for article credibility

Our analysis scored 31,000 articles from January 1 to March 21 related to COVID-19 from over 400 U.S. outlets and over 6,000 authors to identify the most credible journalism based on a few simple metrics: the author’s topical expertise, the publishing site’s historical reputation, evidence cited in the article, and the writing tone. See our How It Works page for more information on how we grade article credibility. For this dataset, we only included individuals who published at least 5 articles. We did not include articles with multiple authors since that would complicate attribution, and it should be noted that the algorithm cannot always assess certain pages.

This information can be seen firsthand using our browser extension, which instantly assesses the above metrics. This data is what feeds this analysis, as well as The Factual’s daily newsletter.

COVID-19 Reporters (3)-1

 

Our Top 10

  1. Jessica McDonald - FactCheck
    Average grade: 94.0% | Number of articles: 7

    We’ve already referenced Jessica McDonald in our first article on COVID-19, but she’s shown up again as one of the all-around best sources for accurate information on the pandemic. While her role at FactCheck.org covered a diverse set of topics prior to the outbreak, from the 2020 election to the environment, her background is firmly in reporting on health and science issues, all backed by a PhD in immunobiology. Her recent fact-checking work includes debunking the popular myth that we can count on COVID-19 receding with the arrival of warmer weather in April.

    Best article: Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory (98%)


  2. Kat Eschner - Popular Science
    Average grade: 90.4% | Number of articles: 5

    Kat Eschner is a freelance science journalist and a contributing editor to Popular Science. Based in Canada, she has also written for other outlets including Smithsonian, The Guardian, and CNBC.com. During the ongoing pandemic, she has captured critical elements of the disease’s origin in China and spread further abroad.

    Best article: The novel coronavirus coronavirus finally has a name—two of them, actually (97%)


  3. Julia Belluz - Vox
    Average grade: 88.6% | Number of articles: 30

    As the senior health correspondent for Vox—which consistently scores as one of the best outlets for credible news in our data, COVID-19-related or otherwise—it should be no surprise that Julia Belluz makes our list. She focuses on health questions, such as the anti-vaccine movement, maternal mortality in the U.S., and the science behind popular trends and medical myths. That expertise has translated into some of the best articles on COVID-19 (including ones that we’ve already cited)—and at a higher publication frequency than our other top journalists.

    Best article: Italy’s coronavirus crisis could be America’s (92%)


  4. Pien Huang - NPR
    Average grade: 88.0% | Number of articles: 5

    Pien Huang is a global health and development reporter for NPR’s science desk. Her affinity for science is demonstrated by extensive international work in climate change, environmental, and other issues in both digital and audio formats. Her coverage has explored how the disease spreads as well as the global health response.

    Best article: What’s a ‘Super-Spreading Event’? And Has It Happened With COVID-19? (91%)


  5. Beth Mole - Ars Technica
    Average grade: 87.6% | Number of articles: 14

    Beth Mole’s background exudes expertise in infectious disease and health policy, complete with a PhD in microbiology and experience writing for esteemed outlets such as Nature and Science. Amid the current crisis, she has closely tracked the U.S. response to the virus, including its missteps.

    Best article: Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus (91%)


  6. Jessica Hamzelou - The New Scientist
    Average grade: 87.4% | Number of articles: 5

    Jessica Hamzelou is a London-based health and medical science reporter, with particular expertise on issues of fertility, neuroscience, and microbiology. She writes for the New Scientist, an international weekly magazine focusing on science and technology. Thus far, her focuses have translated into analysis of the worst of COVID-19’s symptoms and how it interacts with pre-existing health conditions.

    Best article: Coronavirus: What we know so far about risks to pregnancy and babies (92%)


  7. Megan Molteni - Wired Magazine
    Average grade: 87.2% | Number of articles: 9

    As with many others on this list, Megan Molteni leverages an academic background in biology or medicine to help create credible journalism. At Wired Magazine, she covers public health, biotechnology, and genetic privacy issues, recently looking at issues such as COVID-19 testing and the search for a vaccine.

    Best article: The Coronavirus Is Now Infecting More People Outside China (89%)


  8. Antonio Regalado - MIT Technology Review
    Average grade: 87.1% | Number of articles: 11

    Antonio Regalado is the senior editor for biomedicine at another one of our top-ranked outlets for news about COVID-19—MIT Technology Review. From a background that includes years of reporting for Science and the Wall Street Journal, he covers how technology is changing medicine and biomedical research, for example, how a new blood test might be able to identify COVID-19 cases.

    Best article: Biologists rush to re-create the China coronavirus from its DNA code (96%)


  9. Donald G. McNeil, Jr. - New York Times
    Average grade: 86.4% | Number of articles: 5

    Donald G. McNeil, Jr., is a New York Times health and science reporter who focuses specifically on “plagues and pestilences,” including the “diseases of the world’s poor, including AIDS, Ebola, malaria, swine and bird flu, mad cow disease, SARS and so on.”  His coverage of the coronavirus began on January 8 and increasingly raised the alarm as things worsened.

    Best article: Mask Hoarders May Raise Risk of Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S. (90%)


  10. Melissa Healy - LA Times
    Average grade: 84.5% | Number of articles: 13

    Melissa Healy is emblematic of many health and science journalists during the epidemic in that her routine coverage of diverse topics such as prescription drugs and neuroscience has been sidetracked to coronavirus coverage—almost 24/7. Nonetheless, Healy leverages her decades of experience reporting for the LA Times to bust COVID-19 myths, address FAQs, and track the disease’s spread.

    Best article: How the blood of coronavirus survivors may protect others from COVID-19 (89%)

For Your Twitter Feed

These individuals don’t just produce top journalism, some of them share great articles on Twitter as well. For those of you who like up-to-the-minute news on COVID-19 and are on Twitter, we rated the credibility of articles in each reporter's Twitter feed and found the following 5 to consistently have highly-rated articles: Jessica MacDonald (@jjmcdona), Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto), Beth Mole (@BethMarieMole), Megan Molteni (@MeganMolteni), and Antonio Regalado (@antonioregalado). For ease of use, we’ve also created a Twitter list to follow these great journalists in one place.

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