Any good data journalist shares their thorough methodology, inviting questions and comments on the process behind their work. In the interest of transparency, here’s how the COVID-19 Data Dispatch is put together each week.
At the start of the week, Betsy starts a new notes page in Notion. She writes out prospective topics for that Sunday’s COVID-19 Data Dispatch issue. Throughout the week, she adds links and associated notes to the Notion page, organized roughly in bullet points. These links may be new data sources, media reports, Tweet threads, key statistics, and more.
Towards the end of the week, Betsy takes stock of the accumulated notes. She sketches out two outlines for the newsletter: one (more detailed) in a Google doc and one (less detailed) on the whiteboard that she keeps in her workspace. Then, she starts writing, going one section at a time. She analyzes data and produces visualizations as needed along the way.
All of the blog posts comprising that week’s COVID-19 Data Dispatch issue are typically complete by late evening on Saturday. Betsy gets a well-deserved seven to nine hours of sleep, then proofreads the newsletter first thing Sunday morning. Sometimes, her girlfriend (who is a seasoned copyeditor) checks it over, largely to point out unnecessary commas and areas where “which” should be replaced with “that.” Betsy converts the master Google doc into five to six blog posts shared on this website, then copies the key information from each post into the newsletter.
The COVID-19 Data Dispatch weekly newsletter typically arrives in readers’ inboxes around 1 PM Eastern on Sunday. Sometimes later in the afternoon.
Where does Betsy find all that data news and resources? Here are a few major sources.
- Twitter; specifically, Twitter lists including Data/Investigations by Erin Petenko, Coronavirus Experts by Dr. Ellie Murray, and COVID by Jeff Jarvis
- Other COVID-19 newsletters; notably, Covering COVID-19 by Al Tompkins, POLITICO Pulse, STAT‘s Daily Recap, and Robin Lloyd’s ‘smart, useful, science stuff about COVID-19’
- Press releases from the CDC, HHS, CMS, and other major public health agencies
- Major science and health publications, including STAT News, KHN, The Atlantic, Science News, Slate, and others
- Tips from readers!
If you have a suggestion for a newsletter topic, featured source, or anything else, send it to email@example.com.