By Steven Greenhouse
Source: Nieman Reports

In her six years as a reporter at The Courier in Waterloo, Iowa, Amie Rivers has mainly covered politics and local news. In the weeks before the pandemic hit in March 2020, she wrote stories about a real estate agent announcing plans to run for Iowa House and about the police arresting a man who was found asleep at the wheel at a red light.

But soon after Covid-19 hit, Rivers focused on an outbreak at Tyson’s huge pork-processing plant in town. First, she wrote about workers’ suspicions that there was a Covid outbreak, and she soon followed that with larger stories about how Tyson’s crowded working conditions had let the virus rip through the plant’s 2,800 workers. The national media jumped on the story that Rivers broke, and in May, about 1,000 of the plant’s workers tested positive.

“We started getting these tips from people,” Rivers said. “They were really worried about getting sick, and they didn’t think their employer was doing anything about it. Right away that set off alarm bells.”

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