» Inform, engage, investigate: Lessons learned from Zika outbreak
05.07.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

Inform, engage, investigate: Lessons learned from Zika outbreak

© UNESCO

Inaccurate communications, isolated populations and sensationalist coverage acutely exacerbate risks during crisis and disaster situations. In such sensitive contexts, and especially in health-related emergencies, journalists must impart populations with accurate news and verified information to prevent misinformation and rumors which could result in fatal choices.

The core principles of media, such as diversity of sources, editorial independence and quality coverage, must be emergency-proof. On this basis, UNESCO is organizing a two-day workshop entitled “Inform, Engage, Investigate: Media and humanitarians in crisis situations – Lessons learned from Zika outbreak”, which will be held in Panama City, Panama from 14 to 15 July 2016 with participation of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, who will represent UNESCO at the event, communication is essential for all development issues, but for health matters it is of particular urgency and importance. “A call should be made for responsible reporting by health institutions and media in order to be as accurate as possible. Communication has to be designed in a way that it is scientifically exact but, in the same time, accessible to a broad public,” says Mr La Rue.

Since its establishment, UNESCO has strived to enable the development of a vibrant and quality media sector worldwide. Media diversity, quality coverage, impartiality, uncompromised editorial independence – they are all essential prerequisites to people’s fundamental right to know. Through investigative journalism, media can produce verifiable facts, expose wrongdoings and stimulate public debate by providing access to information. In times of crisis and emergency, it is particularly crucial for the audience to trust the knowledge delivered by the media and react upon it accordingly with potentially life-saving endeavors. This workshop will be the opportunity to gather public, private and associative stakeholders involved in crisis management, disaster-relief operations and communications to allow them to exchange on their respective realities, needs and constraints.

The main objective of this workshop is to strengthen media’s potential in crisis situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. In line with World Humanitarian Summit, this regional workshop follows UNESCO’s initiative to fully develop and promote media’s potential in times of epidemics and crisis – as established during the preventive radio campaign led by the Organization to tackle Zika virus across the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Representatives from public, private and community radio stations, media organizations and associations (International Association of Broadcasting, Radio France Internationale, TV Globo, Voice of America, World Association of Community Radios, World Federation of Science Journalist), as well as several members of the RegLAC Communication Group, composed of UN agencies (UNICEF, UNDP, UNIDSR, OCHA, FAO) and major humanitarian organizations (Refugee Education Trust, Plan International, World Vision) have already confirmed their participation.

Each session will address a specific issue related to risk communication: from reporting medical data, to effectively engaging affected communities, as well as ensuring media’s principles in perilous contexts.

You can follow the workshop live (Spanish only) by clicking on this link.

For more information or any inquiry please contact:




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