Hope News in New Book on Pandemic Reporting

Hope News in New Book on Pandemic Reporting

Hope News is one of the news outlets featured in a book about reporting during Covid-19.

Hope Media’s independent Sydney-based news service, Hope News, is enjoying a moment in the spotlight, with an appearance in Pandemedia: a new book from Monash University publishing.

The book is a collection of essays reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic and how it changed news media, and it features a chapter from Hope’s news director Anita Savage.

The Hope News service had only been newly launched when the Covid crisis hit, and the small team of three journalists was able to provide an ongoing, independent perspective on the unfolding events.

In her essay, titled A Media Newcomer Bringing Hope, Anita speaks of the steep curve her team had to climb to gain traction in an established news environment.

“Hope News was not a priority among the newsmakers,” she writes. “Getting people to return our calls was a massive challenge. When our reporter turned up to a news conference, the media minders would sidle up to him, a fresh face among well-known journalists, and regard him as a curiosity. Who are you? Where are you from? Where?”

By consistently turning up, making contacts, and breaking the daily news, Hope News soon became a more familiar voice in the journalist throng.

“By the time the Omicron wave hit and the second lockdown was declared, we’d had a mic flag made so that ‘Hope News’ was on daily display along with the NSW premier, health minister and a revolving door of health officials,” Anita writes. “For many, it was a purple-and-white curiosity amidst a sea of imposing, high-profile television and radio station insignias, like a Where’s Wally? scene. While recognising the seriousness of the situation, it was also thrilling for the radio station’s staff and supporters to see that, despite all of the pandemic’s sorrow, stress and anxiety, there was Hope.”

The essay explains that while the Hope News service does not provide ‘Christian news’, because 'news is news', it was nevertheless set up to provide balance and a wider variety of voices in the news landscape.

Community radio provided a vital information service during the pandemic years, broadcasting ever-changing news of lockdowns, social restrictions and health advice. Anita says that the presence of the Hope News service in that mix, meant that the Christian community was placed firmly on the radar of official information sources.

“It was an opportunity to ask authorities questions that were pertinent to much of our audience, a large proportion of whom are of Christian faith, such as what restrictions and lockdowns meant for corporate worship, meeting together, and communion,” she writes.

The full essay has been printed with permission on Hope's Website (as part of this story) here.

Pandemedia’s collection of essays tracks many of the media shifts that took place during the pandemic, such as the rise of user-generated content, the online information wars between opposing voices, the demand for data journalism, and the emergence of the ‘home-based expert’.

Other contributors to the book include Stan Grant, Michelle Grattan and Dr Norman Swan.

Pandemedia is edited by the ABC News Channel’s Tracey Kirkland and ABC deputy news director Gavin Fang.

Media enquiries can be directed to  rachael.mcdiarmid@monash.edu.

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