Story topic and angle
COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic event with new information presenting itself daily from the Australian Government and health organisations. The rapid-fire speed with which news is reported means it is more liable to contain misinformation, causing panic and distortion of facts within the Australian public.
Except when medical misinformation is reported, an even greater problem is posed to the population.
On April 13 2020, Buzzfeed News reported the first case of COVID-19 contracted from a deceased body to a medical examiner, referencing an article in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. The article was widely shared, and the story run across multiple smaller news sites.
Ten days later, a corrigendum was issued stating the original letter had been misinterpreted, and that the original source made no claims of virus transmission from deceased persons.
I propose to write a feature article which seeks to address misinformation surrounding COVID-19 transmission between deceased persons and the living by outlining the expert consensus regarding risks to mortuary and medical personnel, and funeral attendees in an Australian setting.
Publication and target user group
As morbidity from the virus is a pertinent issue for older Australians, and the children of those Australians, this article will be aimed at the readership of The Guardian who fit this target demographic.
Additionally, The Guardian’s coverage of COVID-19 has been extensive and well-researched in its reporting, in keeping with the spirit of my proposed story.
This article will draw on multiple sources including:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Peer reviewed science and medical journals, such as The Lancet, PubMed and New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
- Australian Government Department of Health
- The Guardian’s datablog (Note: this data is available for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) licence).
- An interview will be conducted with a qualified medical specialist who can speak to how viruses typically exist in deceased persons, how viruses can be transmitted post-mortem, and the greater issue of virus transmission and how workers can protect themselves. The forensic pathologists at the Department of Forensic Medicine (DOFM) in Lidcombe, New South Wales, will be approached.
Ideas for multimedia, hypertext and interactivity
This article will include multimedia, hypertext and interactivity, including:
- Hyperlinks to all sources used
- Photographs of pathology testing and from inside a mortuary
- Infographics on COVID-19 statistics in Australia
- An embedded video of the expert interview with text overlay for the hearing impaired. Standout quotes will also be incorporated within the article’s text to provide an additional visual element to improve scannability for readers