Amidst a pandemic, many publishers have had to step up to meet the high demand for accurate COVID-19 information. One of them is USA TODAY NETWORK, who recently built on their long running digital explainer series Just the FAQs with the Facebook launch of “Just the FAQs LIVE: Conversations about Coronavirus” to answer the public’s most pressing questions about COVID-19.
“(Just the FAQs) has been a viral hit for our video organization over the past handful of years. It’s a series that helps give that visual video guide and explains what’s happening in the news and the most critical questions that come up,” said Caroline Harris, vice president of content distribution. “We already had some explainer episodes for Just the FAQs around the coronavirus before we launched the larger expansion.”
The show airs on Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST and episodes run 30 to 45 minutes. The host is Megan Finnerty, founder and director of the Storytellers Project and Storytellers Brand Studio at Gannett, the Network’s parent company. Every episode, Finnerty welcomes viewers and introduces the topic and guests.
Conversation topics are selected based on inbound questions to USAToday.com. A few topics covered so far include what to do if you’re sick and how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color. A team of editors and reporters sort through the questions that are grouped into four basic categories: money, education, community and health.
USA TODAY NETWORK also has the great advantage of having a large network to pull from for the show, Finnerty explained.
“We almost always have someone report a story about literally whatever question you have. Our job is to make sure that we are listening to the editors and the reporters across the network of which there are more than 5,000 to source the right internal experts,” she said.
In addition, the show seeks out external experts. For example, the a recent episode regarding mental health invited Adriana Alejandre, a licensed marriage and family therapist, to discuss self-care tips.
Harris shared that across Facebook and USAToday.com these episodes have brought in a total of 3.3. million total views. However, an important episode to highlight is the one discussing the stimulus bill, where the content has done so well that they are considering expanding that into its own series.
The media organization also launched “Just the FAQs: Coronavirus Recap,” which is a quick three- to five-minute recap video from each live episode. In addition, a third show was launched called “Just the FAQs: Coronavirus Explained,” which discusses the biggest coronavirus news of the week and condenses it with explanatory graphics, videos and photos.
“USA TODAY NETWORK is in a unique position to offer news and insights from people’s hometowns as well as a national perspective that can provide additional context and scope,” Finnerty said. “We are your neighbors, and we are in your community, and we are making a real effort with this show to provide comfort as well as context.”