The COVID-19 origin story: A case study for understanding the need for evidence-based communications

Host Organization: Media Impact Funders


The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our society, changing every aspect of our lives. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. Economies around the world have collapsed, forcing many into unemployment and untenable situations.

In addition to discussions about what our collective future looks like, there's another question whose answer will provide critical information about how we conduct our daily lives in the future: Where did COVID-19 come from? As its origin remains the subject of scientific debate, we as a society must confront our own behavior and its devastating effects on the environment. We must ask ourselves what environmental actions can we take to ensure we don't unleash another virus?

This discussion will serve as a precursor to our Media Impact Forum—happening in a series of online discussions in June—where we will explore a range of issues relating to media about climate and the environment.

In this webinar, we will examine:

  • Possible causes of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Managing the risks of future outbreaks
  • The role of media in clarifying the problem
  • The importance of media framing in changing hearts and minds
  • An example of one funder's solution to the problem


  • David Quammen, journalist and author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
  • Todd Reubold, publisher and founding editor of Ensia
  • Reyhaneh Maktoufi, Rita Allen Civic Science Fellow at NOVA, WGBH
  • Simone Friedman, Head of Philanthropy and Impact Investing at EJF Philanthropies
  • Vince Stehle, executive director of Media Impact Funders, will moderate this discussion.

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