Reporting under the coronavirus outbreak

Reporting under the coronavirus outbreak

The COVID-19 outbreak has been dominating news cycles in China. Journalists are racing to dissect its impact on every aspect of the society. Telum talked to journalists from different beats to find out the answers.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been dominating news cycles in China. Journalists are racing to dissect its impact on business, fashion, retail, education, F&B, etc. But what specific topics are they looking into and what would they make of the shock waves felt in almost every industry? Telum talked to journalists from different beats to find out the answers.

Zhang Xin, Wuhan-based Reporter,
As a result of the epidemic, I mostly work from home. The difficulty of work is compounded as I cannot conduct interviews offline in Wuhan, and it is not always easy to coordinate the time of interviewees online.

This is an extremely difficult time for most small businesses. Most businesses are now resorting to personnel adjustments to mitigate the negative impact of the epidemic, such as layoffs. So I will pay attention to the impacts on small and medium-sized businesses and their employees.

At the same time, I will also keep an eye on the opportunities brought by the epidemic for startups. This outbreak may be a chance for some innovative projects, such as the no-touch delivery service and driverless low-speed transport vehicles, a project I have been looking at recently. This kind of new field, which is not very concerned, may also usher in opportunities.

Zhou Xin, Chief Editor, Record
The sheer quantity of stories covering the epidemic outbreak alarms us to the point that we have to be restrained with our own reporting. Our first story is from a reporter who was on vacation in Hubei province, providing a personal account of the situations in other cities in Hubei aside from Wuhan. Its angle was unique and not covered by any other media, making the article informative.
Our slogan is "pay attention to the nature of business, provide value-based perspective", which means that when selecting topics, we shall not be too persistent to report on phenomenon but to go deeper into its causes and solutions. As the virus outbreak is showing more and more of its lasting impacts, our focus now switches from the virus itself to industry and business related topics. For industries, we will not be too concerned about short-term effects but will pay more attention to areas that are affected in the long term, especially catering and other industries. As for the types of company, we will focus on the secondary market and some not-yet listed companies, such as Bytedance and Kuaishou.

Peng Xin, Gaming Editor / Technology Reporter,
In terms of the technology beat I cover, I mainly look at the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the technology supply chain. The impact shows on both the supply and demand sides. Now it becomes difficult for employees to get back to work, and since logistics in general is affected, raw materials are hardly in place for production, taking a toll on the supply side. Meanwhile, consumers become restrained with their buying, thereby affecting enterprise cash flows. The larger companies might be able to take the hit, but probably not so much for the SMEs.

Speaking of the gaming industry, I am following the performance of the leading companies, industry trends and how companies are handling the epidemic crisis. The gaming giants are in fact mostly unaffected in the face of the disease outbreak. However, small and medium sized companies could be in real danger if they could not keep on releasing new games. Product advertisements and promotions are likely to be affected as well, since gaming companies would not think it is good timing to launch large scale promotion campaigns. These are all trends that I will be following.

Christina Yao, Managing Editor, The Business of Fashion China
Generally speaking, the virus outbreak will have a certain impact on both the fashion industry and industry media. Our London-based colleagues are responsible for most of the editorial work in the Lunar New Year and have reported on the changing trends of China's fashion industry during the period, including the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on independent designers and brands in China. One of the major events on our agenda, also our strategic partner, Shanghai Fashion Week has already confirmed that it will postpone this year. Meanwhile, BoF China will also adjust our plan accordingly. In the coming months, we will discuss the changes brought about by this epidemic to the whole fashion industry from a macro perspective, as well as produce in-depth coverage on individuals who play an important role in different realms of the industry.

Speaking of industry trends, people will be under strict self-quarantine to limit the spread of the virus, which may result in a consistent slowdown of the retail industry. When the virus fades away and business goes back to normal, people who have repressed their desire of consumption may bring a quick rebound to the market. But overall, the offline retail industry is bound to experience a period of downturn.

As we are concerned about the business of the fashion industry, we will pay attention to measures that offline retailers may take, such as turning to online retail, developing live broadcasting on social media apps, etc. Live streaming commerce has become a trendy topic last year. During the Chinese New Year, live broadcasting on the construction of “Thunder Mountain” and “Fire Mountain”, the hospitals that were built by Chinese government in ten days, provides a new scenario of the application of live streaming, which will be worth reporting on.

In addition, we will also keep an eye on any impact on luxury brands. The virus outbreak has brought about changes in consumer mentality, making people put more value on human interests, health and things that money cannot buy. This may also lead to a dilemma for luxury goods. Therefore, brands may use online retail and marketing methods to re-build the image and develop products that are more environmentally sustainable.

Qasim Khan, Analyst, EqualOcean
The epidemic has brought about huge changes to the education industry. I will mainly pay attention to the paradigm shift in education. Traditional bricks and mortar schools in China are now exploring online education options and teaming up with companies that I follow very closely. Companies like DingTalk that mostly focus on office employees have stepped into the industry for children's online attendance. This also brings about many problems as some institutions that have no experience in online education have to suddenly shift from offline to online. The teachers who are used to offline education will also have to take their time adapting to the new system. 

In short, the public education system will definitely give more importance to online education in the future, but it will not replace offline K12 teaching. The industry will become more solid from the perspective of users, either by charging brands and word of mouth for quality learning content or by seeking online free resources from public channels.

Matthew Bossons, Editor-in-Chief, That's GBA
As a lifestyle publication, we cover a wide array of topics and subject areas, and China's ongoing coronavirus crisis has had an impact on virtually all of them. For myself, I have been closely monitoring the negative effects on China's hospitality and food and beverage industries. With so many bars and restaurants ordered to temporarily close, there is genuine concern that many establishments may permanently go out of business. Additionally, with a major drop off in tourist arrivals and domestic travel, hotels are really suffering - with occupancy rates allegedly dipping below 5% in some Chinese cities.  

In an effort to provide expats and locals alike with current information, we have been running a live blog that we regularly update with the latest information pertaining to the virus. We have also published advice on which masks are best (with insight from healthcare professionals), hygiene tips and lists of businesses that are still operating during this difficult time. We've also been publishing regular updates from consulates and embassies in China, just in case expats and foreigners in the country may have missed their bulletins.

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