At the end of 2015, Stat’s global health reporter (and former Nieman Fellow
) Helen Branswell named
Zika as a global health story to watch. At the time, the mosquito-borne virus wasn’t yet grabbing headlines in the United States. Beginning in January, though, the topic began to rise and trend on Google and social media.
Stat’s reporting on the virus has been “ahead of the curve,” Stat executive editor Rick Berke told me Tuesday. Stat, the health, life sciences, and medical news site launched in partnership with The Boston Globe in November, has already sent reporters to Colombia, Haiti, and Brazil to cover Zika and is now placing correspondents in other regions.
While Zika is obviously only a piece of what Stat covers, Berke, the former New York Times and Politico editor, said the issue is critical to the site’s mission. “It’s a major public health concern. We want to make it accessible to a wide international audience, and already, a quarter of our readers are international,” he said. (Many of those international readers are from the U.K. and Canada, but China, Japan, and Singapore are also significant.) “We see an obligation to break stories on this and go deep, doing it in context and in a sober-minded, but accessible, way.” Stat’s explainers and multimedia efforts around Zika have been especially popular with readers.
A couple of weeks ago, Stat launched a running news tracker called “Zika in 30 seconds,” and this week it began offering up those updates as daily emails.
Stat already has a daily email update called Morning Rounds; this is its first additional “added-value signup,” according to Berke.
“We’ll keep it going as long as there’s interest and as long as we feel the story’s important,” he said. “What’s fun about a startup is that we can experiment and change course whenever we want, and try new things.”