BOGOR, INDONESIA — As concerns about avian influenza spread across Asia, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) conducted workshops in Vietnam and Indonesia to train local journalists on how to cover the deadly disease and other potential epidemics.
The workshops, which were held this week in Hanoi and Bogor, coincided with the outbreak of a new strain of avian influenza (H7N9) in China where there are 21 confirmed cases of the disease and eight fatalities.
In Hanoi the BBG partnered with the Vietnam Journalists Association (VTA) to organize a workshop which brought together both national and international experts. Dr. Nguyen Duc Khoa, Deputy Head of Infection Control for the Vietnam Ministry of Health, explained to the journalists that his agency is analyzing the virus and how it is transmitted from animals to humans. Richard Nyberg, Development Outreach and Communications Advisor for USAID, urged the journalists to examine health trends in the provinces.
Participants in the April 3-4 workshop also learned about the characteristics of avian influenza, the economic and commercial implications of the illness, the role of journalists in covering health emergencies and the use of crowd-mapping in reporting on health disasters. Ha Minh Hue, vice president of the VTA, called the training a “very successful partnership media program between the United States and Vietnam.”
Similar topics were discussed at a workshop in Bogor, Indonesia, on April 8-9, where the journalists also honed their social media skills. Participants embraced Twitter and sent more than 300 tweets about the various sessions in the first few hours. Many of those tweets have been retweeted by @VOAIndonesia. During the two-day workshop, a moderate earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter Scale hit Java, Indonesia, giving the journalists a chance to practice skills needed to cover a disaster.
After both workshops participants created Facebook groups in order to keep in touch and share resources.
The avian influenza workshops were sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Additional BBG sessions will be held for Afghan and Bangladeshi journalists in May 2013.
BBG’s Office of Development supports media training to strengthen free and open media worldwide and provide accurate, objective and balanced news and information to audiences overseas.