KUNR Public Radio recently expanded its reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic through its partnership with the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science. The Hitchcock Project provided funding to help the station produce more COVID-19-related stories for radio broadcast and online distribution.
The Hitchcock Project is an initiative in the Reynolds School of Journalism, which prepares students, professionals and scientists to communicate science in creative forms. Science reporting on KUNR’s radio broadcasts and digital news platforms aligns with the project’s mission.
“This [coronavirus pandemic] seemed like a natural time to deepen the partnership between the Hitchcock Project and KUNR to provide our community with more, and more, accurate information,” Reynolds School of Journalism Dean Al Stavitsky said.
“Without the Hitchcock Project, KUNR wouldn’t have as much access to content,” Michelle Billman, KUNR news director, said, adding that the newsroom also relies on expertise from Reynolds Professor of Science Communication Kathleen Masterson for its science reporting.
KUNR health reporter Anh Gray is one of the journalists focused on covering the pandemic. Gray has produced stories about the pandemic’s impact on healthcare workers, the growth and concerns of telehealth and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine’s role in the coronavirus workforce.
Prior to the pandemic, Benjamin Payne, a Reynolds School graduate student and a part-time host at KUNR, focused his reporting on renewable energy, but he shifted his focus after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued stay-at-home-orders.
“Once it hit, I was given more latitude on the types of content I would produce. I began looking into COVID-19’s impact on businesses,” he said.
Payne worked on a radio feature sharing how a local restaurant is maintaining business during COVID-19.
The Hitchcock Project and KUNR plan to continue the partnership after the need for COVID-19 coverage decreases. Billman and Stavitsky recognize the partnership as an opportunity for passionate and eager journalists to receive professional bylines.
“Partnering with organizations in the Reynolds School allows us to build professional relationships with students,” Billman said.
“Working with KUNR provides high-profile outlets for students working with the Hitchcock Project and will continue after the immediate crisis,” Stavitsky said.