UW Medicine COVID news videos garner Ragan Award

Postscript

March 31, 2021

UW Medicine COVID news videos garner Ragan Award

Collection of news videos filmed by UW Medicine’s media relations received top honors in Video Series category

The news video team in the media relations section of UW Medicine’s Strategic Marketing and Communications has landed the top spot in the Video Series category of Ragan’s 2020 Video, Visual & Virtual Awards.

The award is for a continuing series of news segments and soundbites, prepared with UW Medicine faculty experts and frontline staff, on various aspects of the emergence of and response to the pandemic coronavirus.

When the first reported hospital case of the coronavirus occurred north of Seattle, the media relations team prepared for an onslaught of news media request.

The video team decided how they would document, interview and highlight experts most knowledgeable about the emerging pathogen. They wanted to make it easier for a large number of reporters to obtain taped interviews quickly.

As nursing home outbreaks occurred, and the threat of a pandemic loomed, the team reported what scientists and clinicians were learning about the new communicable disease, its transmission, effects, surveillance, preventive measures and treatment. These videos were downloaded and used by news organizations locally, nationally and internationally, as broadcasters sought immediate insights from infectious disease experts.

The first news video in the series featured Dr. Alex Greninger, a UW Medicine virologist whose laboratory-developed coronavirus test provided results more quickly for the local area.

More short news soundbites and background video for news anchors to voice-over were produced regularly as the pandemic took hold, and UW Medicine began to treat large numbers of critically ill patients. Segments followed the professional experiences of staff caring for COVID-19 patients, and of researchers seeking new ways to test for the virus and to try to find ways to control it with antivirals, infection control measures like closures, masking and physical distancing, and vaccines.

Many of the video segments provided practical advice to the public on coping with the pandemic, or explainers to answer common scientific or health questions about the coronavirus and the illness it causes. Several covered breaking news about COVID-19 coming out of UW Medicine hospitals and research labs.

A few examples of the many topics the team covered:

  • Discoveries on the structure and function of the coronavirus infectivity mechanism
  • Antibody testing to check for previous mild or asymptomatic infections
  • New surveillance approaches
  • How ventilators are used in hospital treatment of COVID respiratory failure
  • Immune system responses to the coronavirus
  • COVID prevention strategies for people living in shelters

Since then, more than 60 news videos featuring a variety of UW Medicine experts discussing breaking news or trending pandemic topics have been produced and made broadly available to the news media for their TV, radio and web reporting.

The work was well received by the news media. One video about drive-through testing for people with possible COVID-19 symptoms was picked up by many national media outlets, including CBS, ABC and FOX News, and reached nearly seven million people in March alone.

The general public also looked to UW Medicine as a source for COVID-19 news and updates. This is evident in the 2.8 million views and 6,400 new subscribers to the organization’s YouTube channel from Jan. 1, 2020, to Aug. 1, 2020. Across social media channels, UW Medicine earned more than 8,000 new followers and reached more than 15 million people. A video showcasing first responders thanking health care workers received more than 83,000 views on Facebook within only one week.

The videographer for the series, Randy Carnell, is a seasoned broadcast reporter with national and international news coverage experience. The producer was Katie Chen, who brought energy, talent, ideas and interviewing and editing skills to her role. Susan Gregg, director for media relations for UW Medicine, oversaw the effort.

Many of the video segments provided practical advice to the public on coping with the pandemic, or explainers to answer common scientific or health questions about the coronavirus and the illness it causes. Several covered breaking news about COVID-19 coming out of UW Medicine hospitals and research labs.