The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is collaborating with the Virtual Journalism Learning Center (VJLC) to offer a free course in Spanish on “How to Cover Natural Disasters and Crises,” on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 9:30 a.m. (PST) – 12:00 p.m (PST). The training session is conducted entirely in VJLC’s virtual facility in Second Life.
The training focuses on helping journalists learn the basic strategies and decision-making skills needed to cover a natural disaster or crisis situation (flood, earthquake, health pandemic, etc.). Specific newsgathering, reporting and storytelling techniques will be covered. Argentinean journalist Sandra Crucianelli will be teaching the three-hour course.
Applications are now being accepted until Feb. 8 by 5 p.m. (Austin, Texas time). Journalists can apply here through the Virtual Journalism Learning Center. Seating is limited for the course so it’s best to apply as early as possible to guarantee a spot.
Full-time and freelance journalists are encouraged to apply. Participants must have access to the Internet at the time of the training and a voice-enabled headset in order to take the course. An account with Second Life is not required. Students will be provided with an account upon enrollment in the training. Those who complete the training will receive a certificate of participation.
“This collaboration between the Virtual Journalism Learning Center and Knight Center is very important so that this kind of training opportunity can be available to as many journalists as possible in Latin America,” Schmitz Weiss said. “The virtual platform of Second Life provides an excellent opportunity for the journalists to jump in and practice their skills in a crisis situation without risk. It gives them a safe environment to hone their skills so they can be better prepared for covering a future disaster or crisis.”
The Knight Center has already collaborated with Dr. Weiss, on her research to determine best ways to train journalists in virtual world, as in the course Mathematics for Journalists, offered in 2010.
“We have been pioneers in the use of the Internet to train journalists, since we launched our distance learning program in 2003, but we have also been interested in collaborating with Dr. Weiss’ experiments on the use of virtual worlds to teach reporting techniques,” said professor Rosental Alves, Knight Center’s founder and director. “Virtual worlds, in this case Second Life, offer unique opportunities for journalism training and for education in general.”
The Virtual Journalism Learning Center was founded in 2009 by Dr. Amy Schmitz Weiss, assistant professor of journalism at San Diego State University. The mission of the Center is to help journalists become better reporters so their news stories can indirectly help save lives, relief efforts can be identified quickly, and the general public can be well informed to make the best decisions during these moments of crisis or disaster.
The Virtual Journalism Learning Center has already trained over 50 journalists through its virtual world based programs. The Center is currently funded through a generous grant of the Campanile Foundation at San Diego State University.
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Alves at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism. It has been funded with a generous donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Center also receives contributions from other donors, including the Open Society Foundations and The University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s main goal is to help journalists in Latin American and the Caribbean improve the quality of journalism in their countries.