Ankur Banerjee on covering health and pharma during the coronavirus pandemic
Reuters has been at the forefront of covering the coronavirus pandemic from all angles, from the race for a vaccine to the gradual reopening of economies around the world. In this week’s Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Reuter Editor-in-Charge, Heath & Pharma, Ankur Banerjee gives an inside look on how he and his team in Bangalore have been reporting on the coronavirus.
Q: What has it been like covering the coronavirus?
A: It is almost like learning how to drive in a Formula 1 grid. Normal rules no longer apply when covering a pandemic. It comes with certain freedoms, but also pressure to make sure that you are at the top of your sector and ahead of competition, especially when delivering real-time news. Every step of the way, the coronavirus story has evolved and constantly challenged journalists, including my team and me, to be on guard. It is important to be ready to cover the latest developments with the expertise and clarity that can help readers understand what is important and what is not.
Q: What has been the hardest part of the reporting?
A: The coronavirus story exploded just as countries across the globe started imposing lockdowns and that meant covering the most important story of our lifetime while working from home without compromising on speed and accuracy. That has been an incredible achievement. Leading and managing a team of reporters during this period virtually has also been an unforgettable experience and it has taught me a lot.
Q: Why are these important stories to tell our customers?
A: These stories are crucial for our customers as they help them understand the importance of certain developments, whether it is about the race to find a vaccine or the latest medical research about the virus. Through the combined expertise of health reporters across Reuters, our readers can separate the wheat from the chaff.
Q: What makes you passionate about journalism?
A: It takes a unique set of skills to distill complicated ideas and concepts into simple sentences that then form a narrative and tell readers what’s at stake. As wire journalists, it is at the core of what we do and something that I am passionate about. The thrill of covering fast-moving breaking news is very difficult to explain, but one that I particularly enjoy.
Q: What is your beat and what do you find most fulfilling about it?
A: I, along with my team, cover health and pharma company news across different regions, write stories on the latest medical research and regulatory developments. As such, we are at the forefront of breaking news coverage for most things related to coronavirus this year. I get intrigued by things that I don’t understand, and the healthcare sector often throws up complicated news. It keeps you honest and disallows you to be complacent. It always feels like a riddle that you need to solve, and I find that quite satisfying.
Q: Can you imagine being anything other than a journalist? If so, what?
A: Probably running a food truck!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: I hope everyone’s taking care and staying safe.