Indhira Suero Acosta

As journalists from around the world navigate the final weeks of a contentious U.S. presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic, they could learn a thing or two from their peers in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Following its postponement in May due to COVID-19, the Dominican Republic held a presidential election in early July. This was a day after reaching a new record for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

For Dominican and Haitian media alike on the island of Hispaniola, the election presented significant challenges and opportunities for reporters and their newsrooms. They scrambled to improve safety measures and protect journalists reporting in the field, while adjusting their reporting approaches, navigating newsroom finances and collaborating.

Safety measures

For their election coverage, Dominican newspaper Listín Diario divided its team into two groups: those who would report from home and others who would work in the newsroom.

In addition to social distancing by staff, the newsroom enhanced its sanitary measures. This included regularly fumigating its office space, completely disinfecting the entire building once a week, and purchasing masks and protective suits.

Listín Diario increased its support to employees by holding virtual interviews and editorial meetings, clarifying for reporters when in-person reporting was necessary, and listening to the team to better understand their needs. The newsroom also raised awareness about COVID-19 among staff. “We had to be very emphatic in recommending that they not overexpose themselves,” said chief editor Juan Eduardo Thomas. continue reading

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