May 22, 2022

Research Resource: Journalists’ Guide to COVID Data and Metrics

Although the recently published Journalists’ Guide to COVID Data was developed for journalists by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) it will likely be of value to other audiences including librarians and educators.

From the Guide:

Watch a press conference, turn on a newscast, or overhear just about any phone conversation these days and you’ll hear mayors discussing R values, reporters announcing new fatalities and separated families comparing COVID case rolling averages in their counties. As coronavirus resurges across the country, medical data is no longer just the purview of epidemiologists (though a quick glance at any social media comments section shows an unlikely simultaneous surge in the number of virology experts and statisticians).

Journalists reporting on COVID, however, have a particular obligation to understand the data, to add context and to acknowledge uncertainty when reporting the numbers.

This guide to common COVID metrics is designed to help journalists know how each data point is calculated, what it means and, importantly, what it doesn’t mean.

Topics Covered Include:

  • Number of Positive Cases
  • Positivity Rate
  • Infection Rate
  • Hospitalizations
  • Recovered Cases
  • Fatalities
  • Fatality Rate

Direct to Complete Journalists’ Guide to COVID Data

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.