WASHINGTON—Several news media organizations have sent an official request to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about including journalists in early deployment plans of the COVID-19 vaccine. They cite the reporting and distributing of news critical to the communities journalists serve and the risks of exposure to coronavirus when gathering news stories as key reasons for inclusion.
The groups state in their letter that they support prioritizing vaccines for front-line healthcare workers, first responders and others providing critical support, as well as for the most at-risk populations. They do request, however, that the committee determining vaccine distribution protocols consider the essential role of journalists as it develops those plans.
In addition to highlighting the role that journalists have played during the pandemic thus far, the letter emphasizes the importance they will have in sharing information about the deployment of the vaccine as well. “[E]ducating Americans about the importance of vaccination, as well as aiding in the monumental task of informing the public about the logistics of the vaccine’s dispersal around the country,” are key roles journalists can play, the groups state.
“To continue providing these critical services, however, journalists cannot simply work from home, but must interact with government officials and the public to report on the stories that matter, regardless of the risks they must assume,” the letter reads. “Despite efforts to protect themselves and the public, members of the media are necessarily exposed to the COVID-19 virus while doing their jobs and serving as ‘first informers’ in local communities across the country.”
Signees of the letter include NAB, the News Media Alliance (NMA), America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the National Newspaper Association (NNA), the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), the News Leaders Association (NLA), NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ).
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