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May 1, 2020updated 07 Nov 2023 5:42am

Shining a light: Best investigative journalism of the coronavirus crisis revealed

By Freddy Mayhew

Investigations have shed light on the impact of coronavirus on the most vulnerable in our societies and helped push for action from officials.

Some of the best investigations are shown below as part of Press Gazette’s Journalism Matters: Excellence in Reporting Coronavirus survey.

Press Gazette received more than 600 nominations after asking people to highlight the best reporting on the pandemic around the world.

The aim of the project is to showcase some of the crucial work being done by journalists during one of the most challenging times for our industry.

The survey asked for nominations from all sections of the media across eight categories:

If you would like to nominate a story that we have missed, or which has been published after the cut-off date for round one of this project on 16 April, please click here to do so (we plan to do a second round of judging).

Work was judged on originality, journalistic skill and rigour, innovation and serving the public interest. View the full list of judges here.

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Please feel free to share this work on social media using the hashtag #journalismmatters.

Coronavirus Journalism Excellence: Investigations


Coronavirus: How bad information goes viral, BBC Online/BBC Trending – 19 March 2020

Olga Robinson and Marianna Spring

An investigation into how one piece of bad coronavirus information, dubbed the “Uncle with master’s degree” post, went viral.

Care home nurse: ‘We haven’t even got to our worst point’, Sky News – 11 April

Nick Martin

Nick Martin spent months following the Covid-19 crisis in care homes and was warned their next challenge would be acting as overspill for hospitals during the outbreak. Five days after this report went out, Health Secretary Matt Hancock paid tribute to Martin’s work and promised to increase access to testing and send PPE to all 20,000 care homes across the country.

Coronavirus: Oxygen supply warning issued, 5 News – 2 April

5 News/ITN

5 News led its programme on a report raising concerns over the supply of oxygen after an urgent patient safety notice had been issued by NHS England urging hospital bosses to “calculate the maximum number of patients who can be treated with high flow devices”.

Hospices issue dire warning of closures as coronavirus sparks cutbacks in end of life care, ITV News – 28 March

Daniel Hewitt/Rachel Bradley (producer)

The vast majority of end-of-life care is paid for through fundraising which stopped overnight more or less when the virus hit. Daniel Hewitt  highlighted what this meant for hospices – with services cut and people losing a key life line. His work eventually led to the government giving the sector £200m to help them through the next three months.

News agencies

Faces of the fallen NHS heroes who have died fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, PA Media – 13 April

PA Media

PA is committed to confirming each NHS worker who has died during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency maintains a list of verified and unverified deaths. Each day, its team of reporters works to verify the names and tell their story. All of this work has been heavily used by PA’s customers, who often rely on the agency to do this for them.

Special Report: Five days of worship that set a virus time bomb in France, Reuters – 30 March

Tangi Salan, Gilles Gillaume, John Irish, Richard Lough, Michel Rose, Bate Felix, Paul Ortoli, Denis Balibouse, Henry Wilkins, Andreas Rinke, Christian Lowe

A special report examining how a prayer meeting at an evangelical superchurch kicked off the biggest cluster of Covid-19 cases in France – one of northern Europe’s hardest-hit countries – to date, local government said. Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it.

Special Report: The Mask Middlemen – How pop-up brokers seek big paydays in a frenzied market, Reuters (US) – 31 March

Joseph Tanfani, Josh Horwitz, Krystal Hu, Alexandra Alper, Brenda Goh and Sophie Yu

A special report examining the growth of mask middlemen. These middlemen described a wild marketplace, in which they seek to quickly connect sellers and buyers before competitors can move in and sell stockpiles out from under them. But the frenzy also has broken down standard quality controls.

National press

Exercise Cygnus warned the NHS could not cope with pandemic three years ago but ‘terrifying’ results were kept secret, Telegraph – 28 March

Bill Gardner and Paul Nuki

A exclusive report showing the Government was warned three years ago that the NHS wouldn’t be able to cope with a pandemic following Exercise Cygnus.

Mafia plots post-coronavirus pounce, Politico Europe

Hannah Roberts and Jacopo Barigazzi

Investigation into the mafia’s preparations to infiltrate the legal economy as Europe looks to rebuild post-pandemic.

So much for lockdown, minister, Daily Mail – 10 April

David Churchill, Jason Groves

Exclusive story revealed Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick had twice broken the lockdown rules imposed by the Government.

How false hope spread about hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 — and the consequences that followed, The Washington Post (US) – 13 April

Elyse Samuels, Meg Kelly

A report looking at a controversial aspect of the US administration’s approach to the coronavirus crisis.

Desperate mums are bidding up to £155 for £8 baby milk as greedy eBay sellers cash in on coronavirus, The Sun – 18 March

Anna Roberts

An exclusive story revealing that desperate mums were bidding up to £155 for £8 baby milk as greedy eBay sellers cashed in on coronavirus.

China’s toxic lackey: Once a Mugabe apologist, the head of the WHO stands accused of putting lives at risk by parroting China’s lies and failing to expose it’s cover-ups, Mail on Sunday – 4 April

Ian Birrell

An investigation into the World Health Organisation’s links to China, part of Ian Birrell’s series looking into Beijing’s Covid-19 cover-up that sparked major global debate over the organisation.


Coronavirus: Britain faces a care crisis that could overwhelm the NHS, The Independent – 4 April

Shaun Lintern

The Independent reports that Britain’s fractured and underfunded social care system is at risk of collapsing within weeks due to pressure from coronavirus – piling further strain onto hospitals.

This Website Has Been Scamming People Desperate For Coronavirus Masks, BuzzFeed News – 25 March

Richard Holmes

Buzzfeed News investigated and found it had taken thousands from people desperate to stock up on masks in at least four countries and then sent them nothing.

Regional press

Bank increases bet that Irn-Bru maker AG Barr will fail, The Ferret – 14 April

Joe Lo

This investigation highlighted the danger which comes from short-sellers during an economic crisis using a much-loved Scottish brand.

Cambridge leads the fightback, Cambridge Independent – 15 April 2020

Paul Brackley

The Cambridge Independent highlights the ways the region is figthing Covid-19 through healthcare, science, collaboration and community spirit.

Specialist media

Fighting the Infodemic: The #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute (US)

Collaborative effort, led by IFCN associate director Cristina Tardaguila

Members of the International Fact-Checking Network launched the Coronavirus Fact-Checking Alliance initiative in January to debunk hoaxes about coronavirus. More than 100 fact-checkers around the world are collaborating to publish, share and translate facts surrounding the virus – the largest such global project ever undertaken. They have made more than 3,000 fact-checks in 40+ languages from 70+ countries so far.

Construction: coronavirus villain or saviour of the economy, Construction News – 2 April

Zak Garner-Purkis

This investigation covered the bitter division in the construction industry over whether to suspend work because of the pandemic or continue.

Documents reveal airline industry plan for tax breaks, subsidies and voucher refunds, Unearthed – 7 April

Luke Barratt

This investigation uncovered a massive global lobbying campaign being undertaken by the airline industry. Documents exposed “an aggressive global campaign” to allow airlines to provide passengers with vouchers rather than cash refunds, among other things.

Coronavirus hackers face the wrath of the cybersecurity community, Verdict – 25 March

Robert Scammell

The investigation took a deep-dive into the tight-knit cybersecurity industry to look at how infosecurity professionals are turning the tables on hackers that have increasingly been targeting healthcare organisations during the crisis.

What It’s Like to Be a Health Worker During the Coronavirus Crisis, Barron’s Group (US) – 3 April

Eleanor Laise

This exclusive investigation into the US care home sector exposed Ground Zero of the coronavirus outbreak in America, direct from the front lines of the crisis, telling the story of some of the people most at risk, and the policies that are putting them in even greater danger.

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