The Department of Communication, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad (UoH), hosted award-winning journalist Ms Apoorva Mandavilli at the Research Round Table Online held on 11th March 2022, Friday. Apoorva Mandavilli is a reporter for The New York Times, focusing on science and global health. She currently covers the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinations, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. She is also the 2019 winner of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting.

The Research Round Table on “Unprecedented: Reporting on a Fast-Moving Pandemic” was led by Ms Apoorva Mandavilli, followed by an interactive discussion. Walking through the various pandemic related news stories she wrote for the New York Times, Ms Mandavilli introduced how pandemic related information can be processed into credible news stories and explained the various challenges she encountered while covering a fast-moving pandemic. “As science journalists, we are used to having time to digest the information, talk to experts and figure out what is going on. But during the pandemic, things were coming out all day long and all week long. It was very hard to keep up. Moreover, a lot of information was on pre-print servers and were not peer-reviewed,” says Mandavilli while pointing out the challenges associated with the influx of information during the pandemic. She further emphasises the importance of processing information and writing stories quickly without compromising accuracy.

“In situations like the pandemic, we try not just say what we know but really put it into context and say how does it fit into the whole and what we do not know,” says Ms Apoorva Mandavilli. As journalists, apart from covering the news, it is also essential to let the audience know that there are a few missing parts to the news story, and the story is evolving. Choosing credible sources, understanding the power plays among various bodies and attributing the right sources also become fundamental components of reporting during a pandemic. Following her presentation, Ms Mandavilli also answered the questions raised by the attendees.

The Research Round Table Online saw participation from students and faculty alike. The session was also live-streamed on Facebook and the Youtube channel of the University of Hyderabad.

Contributed by Varsha Manoj Nair, MA Media Studies, Department of Communication, UoH

The recording of the Research Round Table can be accessed at the link below: