By Abdiaziz Loyal – Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, June 8, 2020.
About seventy journalists from Somalia and neighbouring countries have participated in an online training.
The two-day online training organized by the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) on June 4 and 5, 2020 aimed at improving the coverage of COVID-19 in their various media houses.
The training was facilitated by Yusuf Garaad Omar, former Somalia Foreign Minister and veteran long-serving editor at the BBC Somali Service and Mahad Jama Koronto, a senior media trainer from Media Ink.
It focused on improving the awareness, safety, and protection of journalists and other media professionals in the context of COVID-19.
The training also aimed at helping journalists navigate through fake news, propaganda, and unprecedented scenarios linked to the pandemic.
Whereas Garaad stressed the need for journalists to take keen on obtaining detail evolving on impacts around the pandemic especially the social and economic impacts, Koronto asked journalists to rely on using official sources of information and cross-check to have factual medical reports when reporting about Coronavirus.
“It is important that the public is given information about figures of patients who have been infected by the disease or number of fatalities, but journalists are required to look into more detail all other issues surrounding impacts of COVID-19, including economic impact, education, travel and so on,” Yusuf Garaad said.
Koronto also called on journalists to humanize the impact of COVID-19 instead of just reporting numbers while remaining culturally sensitive in our reporting.
Farah Omar Nur, FESOJ Training and Development Secretary implored trained journalists to put into practice the lessons and strategies shared by the experts.
“We hope that this training will improve the way journalists cover the COVID-19 related news,” he said.
Journalists who participated in the training appreciated FESOJ and the instructors for what they called ‘timely, practical, and stimulating advice.
“The workshop was an excellent mix of timely, practical and stimulating advice and ideas on how to handle key issues affecting journalists and their reporting of the COVID 19 crisis,” Hassan But based in Kismaayo said.
Farah Omar revealed that FESOJ’s plans to conduct more online pieces of training on COVID-19 in consideration of FESOJ requests from journalists across the country.
Over the time, World Health Organization has cautioned against rising online misinformation.