A few days ago I was contacted by Canadian editor and journalist David Thomas with an idea. Why don’t all the major media companies collaborate in producing an independent daily briefing on the Coronavirus? I thought Dave’s idea had merit, so I drafted this short description of how it might work.
What: A daily briefing on where we are in fighting the Covid-19 virus.
When: Every day for the forseeable future, 4 to 5 pm ET.
Where: On the internet. Streaming video and audio always. Broadast whenever a particpating channel or station decides to pick it up. All guests appear remotely. All questions asked remotely.
Why: For the same reason there needs to be a daily briefing at the White House, but this one is independent from the White House. It provides a stream of factual and relevant information from experts who can speak with authority, and people on the front lines who are in a position to know.
Who: Originated by the “network pool,” a consortium of ABC, CBS, NBC, FNC and CNN that already collaborates on big occasions like the State of the Union, plus a few other events like this. Any other media company can join for free, submit questions live, and carry the video or audio, which are also available on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and as a podcast.
How: Features 4-5 guests a day who have advanced knowledge or a vital perspective: public health experts, epidemiologists, scientists, hospital officials, governors. Journalists who are part the AMDB can submit questions live. Anyone on the internet can submit questions in advance.
What are the minimum requirements to make this happen? A control room at one of the networks. A technical staff of 2-3 people. A unaligned moderator like Steve Scully of CSPAN, plus a back-up person for off days. An executive producer. An editorial staff of 3-4 people to vet and book guests.
What stands in the way? The hard part is to reach an agreement among the networks and people whose shows compete. The rest could be up and running in a couple days.
How do you know that? I asked people with network television backgrounds.
Is this supposed to replace the daily White House briefing? No. It is a parallel institution.
Is it supposed to compete with the White House briefing? All information competes with other information these days.
What’s your agenda? To build a daily audience for independent, evidence-based updates and to inject more quality, real time information into the news system during a public emergency of unprecedented scale.
Why would the big media companies collaborate on this? They’ve never managed to do that before. Well, they have never faced anything like this. And as I said, the five big commercial networks have collaborated before. A vehicle for doing so already exists. It’s called the network pool.
How do we convince them? We appeal to their public service mandate. We appeal to their instinct for cross-partisan truth. This is chance to show Americans that “the Media” can come together with one daily news update for everyone of every political stripe because these extraordinary times require it.
Why is Fox News included? Like CNN, Fox is part of the network pool.
Why is CNN a part of this? Like Fox, CNN is a part of the network pool.
Why is MSNBC included? Like Fox and CNN, NBC is part of the network pool, which is the most likely consortium to tackle something like this.
Who picks the questions? The executive producer and the staff he or she hires..
I will add to the FAQ as more questions arise.