How we're keeping you informed during this crisis

Since we first reported on the outbreak of a new virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January,COVID-19 has spread across the world infecting hundreds of thousands of people,locking down countries,closing down core institutions and changing how we live and work.

The challenge we face today is as unexpected as it is immense. And it is possible the terrible impact of the virus gets worse before it gets better. Uncertainty about what happens next is part of our daily lives and I know many loyal readers are doing it tough. The temporary shutdown of our vibrant society is deeply unsettling.

The Sydney Morning Herald andThe Age have been reporting the news without fear or favour for a combined 355 years. The mastheads have endured wars,recessions and other global shocks and we are confident we will make it through this extraordinary crisis. However,these are anxious times for newsrooms - ours included. So I’d like to explain to you how we will tackle the important challenge of keeping you fully informed throughout this pandemic.

The hundreds of journalists we employ have worked around the clock (often remotely from across the country) to deliver independent news,sharp analysis,comprehensive explainers and vivid on-the-ground reporting in a timely and responsible manner. We know we have an important job to do and we take that job very seriously. We also know our readers detest political agendas,particularly in the midst of a crisis,which is why we stick to expert sources and keep commentary and news separate.

We made the decision early to remove the paywall from our daily live coverage of the pandemic.

James Chessell

Misinformation can spread as quickly as the virus itself. Our newsrooms are committed to reporting the facts about COVID-19 while calmly explaining what the spread of the virus means for our health,the economy,schools and universities,the sporting and cultural realms as well as our homes and families. We will hold federal and state governments to account without straying into sensationalism or negativity. It is imperative that our community is properly prepared and informed as we face this challenge together.

With the newsrooms all-but empty,Herald,Age,Brisbane Times and WAtoday journalists face many familiar challenges. We work from home worrying about the health of friends and family,like many of you. We juggle homeschooling,video conferencing and the other aspects of our newly-confined lives,like many of you. We are anxious about the future,like many of you. Given all this I am incredibly proud of the way our journalists have gone about their work,putting in long hours to provide you with the information you need.

Of course,quality journalism costs money. Our efforts are only possible with the support of our subscribers - now more than ever. We do not take your contribution lightly. It underpins everything we do and gives us confidence we will come through a period when advertising revenue has fallen dramatically.

We also recognise how important access to reliable coverage is for all Australians. In an attempt to strike a balance between financially supporting the newsrooms and making important public information freely available,we made the decision early to remove the paywall from our daily live coverage of the pandemic. Our live blogs are hosted in a prominent position on our homepage. They contain all the key news events,updated as often as they need to be to keep you informed.

If you’re not in a position to subscribe,we recommend visiting our homepage each day and looking for the articles labelled “live”. These articles are free for all registered readers. We’re publishing a Coronavirus Update newsletter for all readers that provides a summary of the week’s most important stories.You can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox each week. And you can listen to our dailyPlease Explain podcast covering all angles of the COVID-19 response.

For those of you who do subscribe,the people bringing you theHerald,The Age,Brisbane Times and WAtoday each day want to say a sincere thank you.

The wider coverage you’ve helped support includes:

Most importantly,we’ve been able to tell you what it all means for you and your family. To experience the breadth of our coverage we have built a landing page for all this content and more. Herald readers can find it here, Age readers here,Brisbane Times here andWAtoday here.

Thank you for your support. We are incredibly grateful to receive it during such a difficult time for many Australians. We depend on you and you can depend on us for unparalleled coverage of this crisis.

Best wishes,and please take care.

James Chessell.

James Chessell is the Executive Editor of Australian Metro Publishing.

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