3 min read

Former CBS Executive Producer Talks Impact Of Coronavirus On Media, Journalism

On the first episode of The Rough Cut’s fifth season, Storyhunter Co-Founder Alex Ragir spoke with Mosheh Oinounou, the former Executive…
Former CBS Executive Producer Talks Impact Of Coronavirus On Media, Journalism

On the first episode of The Rough Cut’s fifth season, Storyhunter Co-Founder Alex Ragir spoke with Mosheh Oinounou, the former Executive Producer of CBS Evening News and the network’s 24-hour news offering, CBSN. Mosheh has been working with Conde Nast on developing shows for Quibi, and using his Instagram account (@mosheh) to provide aggregate real-time coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic on his Instagram Stories. Alex and Mosheh talked about ways that the coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to evolve as journalists, covering news on Instagram Stories, the importance of quality journalism during this particular crisis and what aspiring journalists should do to set themselves up for a career like his.

On the go? Listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and wherever you listen to your shows!

Below are edited highlights of the conversation:

Coronavirus is Pushing The World Forward

“I think everyone’s been thrown for a loop when it comes to the coronavirus and its impact. I think in some ways you could say that coronavirus is expediting trendlines that we already saw in the industry. You’ve seen a trendline of cord-cutting for almost a decade. There’s been an increase of hours streamed, billions of hours streamed in the last month. That’s how people are getting their content. At the same time, with the economy how it is, we’ll probably see cord-cutting increase as a way to save money.”

Journalism Is Alive and Well

“You need to show you’re not just focused on covering the noise out of Washington, but ultimately what’s happening way out of Washington. I think there’s been some really impressive journalism done in the last couple months. You’ve heard one thing from Washington, where someone is saying that everything is fine and that we have everything we need. Then you had local reporters across the country talking to nurses and medical personnel and showing what’s happening behind the scenes. Ultimately, a lot of that reporting had an impact at the local, state and federal levels.”

Misinformation Spreads Quickly, Do Your Part To Contain It

“Five or six weeks ago, I was getting random text messages from people saying ‘Beware. I have a friend in the military who said the country is getting shut down tomorrow.’ This is how riots happen; when information is spread quickly with no basis and fact. So I took to Instagram to just try to inform people. I have contacts at FEMA, NYPD and DHS and just said ‘Guys, this isn’t true. You’re doing everyone a disservice and at worst, risking lives if you continue to push out this sort of information.’ So at least for my friends and family, and for the followers I’ve gained, I’m trying to curate headlines that are vetted and relevant to people’s lives, to show them the news that matters.”

News Organizations Have to Earn Trust

“Wired Magazine put out an article that referred to 9/11 as ‘The Last Analog crisis’. That was pre-Twitter, smartphone, Facebook, all that. So this crisis is the first global situation that’s happening in the social media era where anyone is a broadcaster. We’ve seen through election cycles that hundreds of ‘fake news’ accounts have manipulated elections here and abroad. A challenge we all have is trying to ensure there are places people can go and sources they can turn to for trusted information.”

Be An Expert First, Journalist Second

“If you’re in this industry, you’re in it because you’re curious about the world. You’re questioning things. It’s important to just voraciously consume media and content. Try to know a little bit about everything. I often tell journalism students to not study journalism. Journalism is a very practical profession, and you’ll learn that at major organizations. Become an expert in something, economics, psychology, etc. Now more than ever, we need medical journalists who have the expertise and can read journal studies from epidemiologists.”

Learn Every New Platform

“In the last ten years, from Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram, the growth of YouTube, and random things that have popped up like Periscope. You have to learn every platform. You never know what’s going to blow up and ultimately all we do as storytellers is tell a story and try to customize it for a platform.”

Click here for all previous episodes of The Rough Cut.

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By Alex Ragir (Co-Founder) and Jake Watkins (Head of Stories)