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“Das Coronavirus-Update”, the coronavirus podcast series featuring Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, has won two Grimme Online Awards. In addition to being the judging panel’s top choice in the ‘information’ category, the podcast also won the audience choice award. Produced by the northern German radio and television broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), the podcast has been running since February 2020. In the podcast, Prof. Drosten, the Director of Charité’s Institute of Virology, provides listeners with up-to-date information on the current COVID-19 pandemic and the virus causing it.
Herd immunity, reproduction numbers, seasonality. According to the panel of judges, Prof. Drosten’s coronavirus podcasts have shown that detailed, in-depth science journalism is capable of engaging and captivating an audience and, “almost inadvertently, they have enabled new groups of listeners to discover and appreciate the value of podcasts as a medium.” Nominated as one of 28 online formats, the podcast also secured the audience choice award, a testament to the podcast’s popularity and the level of interest it has generated among the wider public.
Hosted by two NDR science journalists, the podcasts see Prof. Drosten discuss the latest scientific findings regarding viral exposure and infection and the symptoms and progression of COVID-19. The podcasts also delve into more specific questions, exploring issues such as the risks posed by the novel virus and the nature of measures which might be capable of containing the pandemic. Unafraid to tackle complex information, Prof. Drosten is able to deconstruct and explain intricate concepts in a way that both the lay person and specialist finds accessible and engaging. Listeners also have the opportunity to ask Prof. Drosten direct questions.
Following its launch in February 2020, the podcast’s popularity and audience numbers increased rapidly, particularly during the initial phase of the pandemic. Individual podcasts are between 30 and 60 minutes in length and reach millions of listeners. Having produced a total of 50 podcast to date, the team will pause production during the summer months of July and August.
About the Award
The Grimme Online Award, which has been awarded since 2001 and carries no monetary value, is regarded as the most prestigious award in German online publishing. It reflects current trends in internet publishing and aims to highlight instances of outstanding quality in what is an immensely crowded field. Due to the current pandemic, this year’s award ceremony was conducted via a livestream.