Prepare your newsroom for future health crises

2020-10-30. Scientists are warning that we may be entering a looming age of pandemics. Epidemics may be more frequent, with many viruses coming from animals, and spreading more easily because of global travel.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | October 29, 2020

In addition to health emergencies, climate change, extreme weather events, chemical emergencies and even digital shocks are on the horizon.

Peter Piot, the microbiologist who helped discover the Ebola virus, and now a special coronavirus advisor to the European Commission president, said in an interview with Politico that while preparedness is the key to being able to respond effectively, “we are not really prepared”.

“It’s like we are establishing a fire brigade when the house is on fire. No, we need one all the time.” – Peter Piot

This observation applies to newsrooms too.

Thought needs to be given now to how to cover future global crises – whatever the size of your newsroom and extent of your resources. That is why the World Editors Forum is hosting the Science in the Newsroom Global Summit 2020, around the theme of Journalism in the Age of Pandemics.

Aimed at editors, journalists and newsroom managers, the virtual event – taking place on 23 and 24 November, will draw on lessons from 2020 and provide a frame for a conversation about risks ahead and how to prepare for possible emergencies.

Warren Fernandez, President of the World Editors said explained the rational behind the event: “Newsrooms, through their journalism, are a vital partner in building a better future. Our key mission is to keep our audiences informed, ask the key questions of those in authority and help people make sense of developments, so they can figure out the way forward for their communities. To do so, we need to skill up, so that we can deliver on this critical task, so vital for the health and well-being of our societies.”

View the programme, speakers and register for this free event here.

The event is part of a broader Science in the Newsroom programme that WAN-IFRA has been running in 2020 to improve the quality of reporting around science and health issues. It is based on the premise that by providing citizens accurate information to help them make informed decisions about their lives, their society and those who govern them, the media can contribute to a better future.

While we have your attention:  How would you improve the quality of science communication? What are the main issues and obstacles you would bring to the attention of policy-makers? What works and why? Have your say!

The QUEST project, of which WAN-IFRA is a partner, is asking science journalists what challenges they are facing as science communicators, and what strategies they suggest to overcome them. Filling in the survey will only take 10 minutes of your time.

Read more and take the survey



WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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