Reliable Sources: Ending the COVID Tracking Project



Reliable Sources examines how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover in this weekly CNN program.

  • Alexis Madrigal on ending the COVID Tracking Project, and what that says about the federal response to the pandemic

    At the twelve-month mark of the pandemic in the United States, COVID Tracking Project co-founder Alexis Madrigal looks both backward and forward in a wide-ranging conversation with Brian Stelter. Madrigal says the volunteer pop-up collective “stumbled into a real gap in our pandemic preparedness and then have done our best to fill it.” But it was necessary because of the federal government’s failures. “Going state by state” and gathering the data “in the way that we did really put us in touch wiShow moreth the realities of this country right now, and not our myths about how great we are,” he says. Madrigal also explains why it is now possible to “sunset” the daily data reporting, and what more still needs to be done.

  • Marty Baron reflects on his tenure at The Washington Post — and what’s next for journalism

    Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron joins Brian Stelter for a final interview before retiring from the Post at the end of February. They discuss his career; the Post’s expansion; and the news outlet’s future as well as his own retirement plans. Baron says he plans to stay “active and involved” in the news industry, just not on a full-time basis. He also talks about being an editor in the digital age; the growing importance of visual storytelling; and the transition from the Trump adminiShow morestration to the Biden administration. 

  • Steven Waldman on Facebook’s fight in Australia, Alden’s takeover of Tribune, and how philanthropy could help fix the local news crisis

    Steven Waldman, the president and co-founder of Report for America, connects the dots between the local news crisis, the “financialization” of newspaper ownership, and the spread of disinformation on social media. Brian Stelter also asks Waldman about the rash of recent news about the news industry, including the international implications of the Australian proposal to have tech platforms pay publishers for news, and a hedge fund’s bid to buy Tribune Publishing. Waldman says the decline of localShow more news coverage is “catastrophic for democracy,” and proposes some solutions, including tax credits and nonprofit ownership models. “In the scale of the amount of philanthropic resources that are out there… it’s actually inexpensive to fix, and yet the consequences of what’s happening are so severe,” he says.

  • Valentine’s Day edition: Jamie Stelter turns the mic on Brian

    Brian Stelter’s better half, NY1 host Jamie Stelter, takes over the podcast for a Valentine-themed episode. Jamie surprises Brian with questions submitted via social media, covering everything from work habits to pandemic parenting, from “love language” to local news. A special Sunny guest makes an appearance at the end of the conversation.

  • Jonathan Swan on ‘Trump’s Last Stand,’ the need to ‘capture history’ and the importance of leaks

    Jonathan Swan shares what he has learned about President Trump’s final weeks in office, including a feud with Fox News and a conspiracy-drenched shouting match in the Oval Office. Swan, a national political correspondent for Axios, has published a long-form investigative series called “Off the Rails” and a narrative podcast, “How It Happened: Trump’s Last Stand,” about his reporting. “This is probably the strongest compulsion I’ve had in my career” and “the most driven I’ve been to get somethingShow more out quickly,” he says. “I just felt this overwhelming urgency to get it out. What I was hearing was not stuff I could sit on.” Swan also explains why this deep-dive was a “dramatic departure” for Axios, otherwise known for “Smart Brevity.”