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Self-Directed Course

Variants, vaccines and medications: What journalists need to know to improve COVID-19 coverage

 

This self-directed course is for journalists wanting to improve news coverage of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It is based on a multilingual webinar titled “Variants, Vaccines and Medications: What journalists need to know to improve COVID-19 coverage,” which took place in January 2022, and featured three panels of renowned science and health journalists and medical experts.

The course is divided into three modules, each including a video, transcript and readings. The modules cover disinformation and evolving data; mutations and variants; and vaccines and medications.

The self-directed course is available in English, Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

The webinar and this course were organized by the University of Texas at Austin’s Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, in partnership with UNESCO, funded by the World Health Organization and UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

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The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this course do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The authors are responsible for the choice and the presentation of the facts contained in this course and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.

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In module 1, speakers help journalists navigate the challenges associated with the inequitable distribution of information, and ever-evolving data, surrounding COVID-19. 

Speakers include:

  • Davey Alba, New York Times reporter covering online disinformation and its global impact | United States 
  • Federico Kukso, an independent science journalist & board member of the World Federation of Science Journalists | Argentina
  • Mandi Smallhorne, president of the South African Science Journalists Association & vice-president of the World Federation of Science Journalists | South Africa
  • Jane Qiu, an independent science journalist who has written for Nature, Science, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, The Lancet, and National Geographic | China 

 Video Classes

1. Disinformation & evolving data

Watch Video  Transcript 

 Readings

1. How to deal with disinformation and uncertainty when covering COVID-19 (JournalismCourses.org)

2. Science journalists from the Global South offer tips to improve the coverage of COVID-19 and fight misinformation (JournalismCourses.org)

3. Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future (Self-directed course available on JournalismCourses.org)

4. “How journalists can avoid ‘the hype’ when covering COVID-19 developments (JournalismCourses.org)

5. Handbook for Journalism Education and Training: Journalism, Fake News & Disinformation

6. UNESCO Remote Radio Week resource - Practical suggestions and solutions for radio professionals on handling and fight disinformation and misinformation

7. PortalCheck.org - online platform with resources and tools to help combat mis/disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and Caribbean

8. Policy briefs on responses to disinformation

9. Broadband Commission research report on ‘Freedom of Expression and Addressing Disinformation on the Internet’ 

10. Free audio resources for radio stations to counter COVID-19 disinformation

11. Media and Information Literacy publications

12. Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Courses developed in partnership with UNESCO

In module 2, speakers deepen journalists’ understanding of COVID-19 mutations and variants, along with the changeability of the virus.

Speakers include:

  • Kai Kupferschmidt, reporter, Science Magazine | Germany
  • Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill & a clinical assistant professor in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine | United States 
  • Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan | Canada 

 Video Classes

Mutations & variants

Watch Video  Transcript 

 Readings

1. Panelists offer tips for covering COVID-19 mutations and variants (JournalismCourses.org)

2. “Science in Five,” a weekly video and audio series in which WHO experts explain the science related to COVID-19. English transcripts available here. (WHO)

3. Science Editing Handbook (Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT)

4. UNESCO Remote Radio Week resource Practical suggestions and solutions for radio professional on how to produce radio programmes to inform about COVID-19 (with WHO)

In module 3, speakers offer important global context for journalists covering new developments about COVID-19 vaccines and medications.

Speakers include:

  • Margaret Harris, spokesperson for COVID-19, World Health Organization
  • Akin Jimoh, editor, Nature Africa | Nigeria  
  • Amy Maxmen, senior reporter at Nature | United States 
  • Josh Michaud, associate director of global health at Kaiser Family Foundation | United States 
  • Mohammed Yahia, executive editor of Nature Research in the Middle East | Egypt 

 Video Classes

Vaccines & medications

Watch Video  Transcript 

 Readings

1. UNESCO Global Resource Center of responses to COVID-19 – Actions to support media, enhance access to information, and leverage digital technologies in the fight against the pandemic

2. Issue brief in the UNESCO series: World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Journalism, press freedom and COVID-19

3. Misinformation around COVID-19 fuels vaccines hesitancy, according to webinar panelists (JournalismCourses.org)

4. Covering the COVID-19 vaccines: What journalists need to know (Self-directed course available on JournalismCourses.org)

5. Covering the COVID-19 vaccines: What journalists need to know (Webinar available on JournalismCourses.org)

6. The mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub, along with a related FAQ (WHO) 

7. A compilation of vaccine equity resources (WHO)

8. Tips for professional reporting on COVID-19 vaccines (WHO)

9. Reporters and scientists point out how to improve coverage of COVID-19 in global webinar by Knight Center, UNESCO and WHO (JournalismCourses.org)