The U.S. Embassy hosted eight leading health reporters at the “Virtual Ebola Reporting Workshop,” sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub based in South Africa. Reporters represented key Nigerian radio, television, and print outlets. They asked important questions on ways to improve their Ebola reporting skills and received professional and experienced responses from the program speakers. They also learned about the U.S. government’s global commitment to controlling the spread of Ebola and support to the most affected countries in Africa.
Workshop speakers, who had covered the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone, advised participants to “stay safe and report accurately.”
Doug Frantz, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Dr. Roodly Archer, health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, all offered opening remarks on the importance of understanding the Ebola threat. With the collaboration of the World Federation of Science Journalists, the virtual workshop featured speakers who offered best practices on health journalism, data gathering, examining case studies, and improving Ebola reporting.
Nigeria was one of the West African nations that was stricken by Ebola casualties at the outbreak of the disease in July 2014, but was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization on October 20, 2014, and now serves as a case study for the remaining nations dealing with the outbreak.
Nigeria being declared Ebola-free poses a challenge to Nigerian journalists on how to report new cases without being seen as creating a stigma for the country. The deployment of Nigerian health workers and volunteers to help Ebola-stricken African countries also poses another challenge to Nigerian journalists who would be reporting from the field. The virtual workshop was an opportunity to answer the reporters’ professional and personal safety concerns in reporting Ebola.