With in-person meetings and press conferences limited, the pandemic has changed how reporters cover government. In San Antonio, the Express-News has had access to the mayor, county judges and local school officials for Facebook Livestreams. In New York, the mayor and other officials can be covered via video streams. Sometimes this makes coverage easier: At WBHM radio in Birmingham, new live streams from the state capital meant that reporters could save a 90-minute drive each way to Montgomery when they wanted to get a live quote from the statehouse. 

But there are downsides too, as a Columbia Journalism Review article noted: You can’t chase an official down the hall for one last question; the stream host can choose who asks questions during the event, and if you’re not in the room, you miss any comments made after the stream ends. 

Another problem: The pandemic has disrupted long-term investigations. FOIA requests were delayed when government workers moved to working from home, and government agencies (which can be uncooperative even in the best of times) have new reasons to slow their responses for comments and information.

This original research is a project of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

Reporters: Matthew MacVey ’16, academic program specialist; Geraldine Baum, assistant dean of External Affairs

Editors: Beth Harpaz, editor for research content and website manager for CUNY website SUM; Amy Dunkin, director of Academic Operations

Website: Rosaleen Ortiz, designer