Monday, December 5, 2016

Sierra Leone journalists share lessons from Ebola reporting
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE--Journalism during times of extreme crisis can literally be a matter of life and death. Just ask the 30 journalists who attended my peace journalism workshop last Thursday in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

When discussing their coverage of the Ebola crisis, which officially ended just one year ago here in Sierra Leone, several reporters shared stories of extraordinary peace journalism. A producer/reporter team talked about the lengths they went to insure that their listeners got accurate information about the disease and how it is spread. One women reporter said that on many days, there were actually hourly updates. Journalists here risked their lives bringing reports from hospitals, treatment centers, and Ebola-endemic areas.

We all agreed on the importance of the work the journalists did during the crisis, and on the fact that incorrect information could have literally cost lives.
The producer/reporter team agreed, incidentally, to produce a longer article about their Ebola reporting for the April, 2017 Peace Journalist magazine.

In addition to Ebola reporting, we also discussed how peace journalism might apply to electoral and reconciliation journalism here. Though the civil war here ended in 2002, the reconciliation process is ongoing. This process, I suggested, could be assisted by news reports about peacebuilders and through the use of media platforms as forums for ongoing discussions.

I was impressed by my Sierra Leonese colleagues’ commitment to their profession, and look forward to working with them in the future.

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