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Delivering ‘glocal’ news during the coronavirus pandemic

A general view of treatment blocks at a temporary hospital in the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Moscow, Russia, November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

As the world faces the biggest global health crisis in a century and the appetite for news has never been bigger, how do outlets provide coverage when most journalists are unable to reach the places where news is happening?

The coronavirus is the biggest story of our time, impacting all parts of the globe and every person on the planet. When the story began to emerge as a global health emergency in the early part of the year, many news organisations were faced with challenges from all sides: the virus itself, slashed budgets and travel severely restricted – if not stopped altogether.

It soon became obvious that the news landscape had shifted on its axis and some fundamental issues needed to be addressed: how could news outlets continue to report the world when much of it was in lock-down? If correspondents couldn’t travel, would the industry become more introspective, reporting just from its own backyard?  Is there any such thing as local coverage when stories go global in a click?

A story which once would have been relevant to the country, region, town or village it originated from now transcends borders and boundaries – the ‘glocalisation’ of news. News agencies and the stories they produce play a vital role in this.

From national agencies like PA Media in the UK, EFE in Spain and Aflo in Japan to the global players including Reuters, AFP and Associated Press, news agencies generate news and content in a wholesale manner on their customers’ behalf. We provide a local perspective, globally, reaching billions of people across the world each day.

News agencies such as Reuters have really come to the fore during the coronavirus pandemic because we have the journalists already in situ: in our case this means 2500 journalists in 200 locations reflecting local voices, experiences and expertise, distributed on global platforms. This mean our customers have a ‘glocal’ view of the pandemic – without leaving their newsrooms.

At Reuters, we have realised the potential of glocalization in the news industry and are taking collaborative, active steps to accelerate it. By hosting 25 of the world’s leading international and national news agencies – some of whom could be deemed competitors – on our customer marketplace Reuters Connect, we’re able to provide media outlets around the world with more localised coverage, whilst at the same time bolstering our own coverage of big stories with new angles.

The challenges facing our industry will no doubt, continue for some time, and likely things will never go back to ‘before COVID’. But that won’t be all bad. By combining efforts and recognising there are crucial decisions which need to be made collectively – across the industry – I foresee a bright future for news agencies – big and small – in providing essential local and global coverage to a world which is hungry to know what’s going to happen next.

Sue Brooks is Managing Director, Reuters Product and Agency.

[Reuters PR blog post]

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