On-line course from World Federation of Science Journalists: Covering Ebola

| April 20, 2015

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Covering Ebola is an online course, published by the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ). The course was developed to help journalists who are covering the Ebola epidemic, or who may write about it in the future. It includes basic knowledge about the virus and the disease, and how to fight it.

The West African Ebola epidemic started in 2013, but wasn’t discovered until March 2014. According to WFSJ, the outbreak had spiralled out of control before the world fully realized what was happening. Ebola experts thought they knew how to end outbreaks of the virus. Even veterans in the field hadn’t imagined that a major epidemic could paralyze cities and countries and kill thousands in a matter of months. Governments, health systems, international organizations, and aid groups were all unprepared.

So were journalists. Many reporters had never written about Ebola before, but were faced with the obligation to provide insightful, accurate and balanced stories about the outbreak and its consequences.

To address this situation, the course includes chapters on: where to find good sources; tips and pitfalls; and how to stay safe when reporting from the field. Because there are many misconceptions about drug and vaccine development – which was greatly accelerated during the epidemic – the course provides an extensive primer on that topic.

Much of the material is helpful for anyone covering infectious diseases. The authors hope it will inspire journalists to dig deeper. They say that epidemics are never just about disease – they always involve human behaviour, as well as politics, economics, history, geography, culture, and science.

All of this and more is available free of charge on the WFSJ website, in English and French. Discover more at: http://wfsj.org/ebola/