The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN)

Winner in Podcast


Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction is a daily news podcast hosted by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The series was created to help listeners navigate the chaos and confusion surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic by offering critical context on everything from testing and vaccines to school safety and travel. Each day, Dr. Gupta invites leading experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, and Dr. Syra Madad to help make sense of the headlines, while still making equal time for the pressing questions of our listeners.


Strategy and Execution

Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction is one of the first podcasts dedicated to daily coverage of Covid-19, transitioning from concept to reality in just two days. CNN's audio team identified the urgent need for clear and concise information about the virus and partnered with Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to update listeners with the latest information.

Dr. Gupta was one of the first experts to call coronavirus a "pandemic" and tapped into his long-standing relationships within the medical and scientific community for much-needed guidance. With episodes ranging from 10-20 minutes, the podcast aims to provide listeners with actionable steps they can take, giving them back a sense of individual control, when possible.

Creating a dialogue with our listeners has been a remarkable privilege throughout this series. To ensure that we are and remain a service to our audience, we have proactively reached out to our listeners through surveys and one-on-one conversations and incorporated their questions into dozens of episodes. We consistently hear from them that the information feels relevant, essential, and spin-free.

The subject matter has ranged from the latest research on vaccines and testing to exploring the strange dreams we seem to collectively experience. Dr. Gupta easily transitions from conversations with leading experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci to answering the questions of families unsure about the future of schooling or whether it is safe to visit grandparents who may be high-risk for the virus.

Beyond examining the pandemic at the individual level, we are also committed to reporting on the societal level, such as how Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting minority communities. Epidemiologist Dr. Camara Jones explained the impact of racism on public health, while CNN correspondent Kyung Lah discussed the significance of the racial slurs she experienced due to her Asian heritage. The podcast has also addressed the most vulnerable communities, like prison inmates, refugees, and the homeless population. In our audience research, listeners who self-identify as part of minority communities have expressed that the show's coverage of such topics and its inclusion of diverse voices makes them feel like the show is "for them" in a way that other news coverage of the pandemic is not.

In contrast with other reporting, Dr. Gupta gets personal. He wants to know how his guests are coping and what keeps them up at night. Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about his own exhaustion and the recommendation from his wife that he slow down. Listeners have heard from emergency room doctors at their breaking point, as well as family members who have lost their loved ones. And Deepak Chopra joined us to lead listeners through a guided meditation that could be repeated anytime things became overwhelming.

As Covid-19 became a significant threat in the US, CNN was building its first audio team. Many of us have never met in person and were onboarded remotely, building mini studios inside our bedroom closets.

Despite these production challenges, we have never missed a deadline and remain committed to keeping our listeners well-informed, safe, and healthy.


Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction utilizes Dr. Sanjay Gupta's unparalleled relationship with the medical and scientific community to drive our reporting and selection of high-level interviews with a personal touch. In addition, we leverage the breadth and talent of the entire CNN operation, domestically and internationally, from David Culver's outstanding reporting out of Wuhan, China to Bex Wright's expertise about the plight of refugees in Bangladesh, as well as Christine Roman's in-depth financial analysis. Their one-on-one conversations with Dr. Gupta showcase an intimacy and depth, often missing from shorter television packages.

Our scripts go through a rigorous daily fact-checking, legal, and standards process to ensure accuracy, fairness, and sound news judgment. We also vet the information through the CNN Health team.

As far as the way we report, this series is one of the only podcasts about the pandemic that addresses topics from the listener's point of view. What means the most to them? How can we explain a complex issue in a way that makes sense to someone without a medical background? For that very reason, we have reached out to our listeners and asked them to send in their questions, which we use within episodes regularly. In our eyes, this podcast is for them, and our success is based on addressing their concerns while educating them about important scientific information and warning them to steer clear of misinformation through our myth-busting and scam alert episodes.


Video for Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN)

Entrant Company / Organization Name