UNESCO launches an online course in Arabic on “Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future”

Beirut, 25 January 2021 – A Massive Open Online Course “Journalism in a Pandemic: Covering COVID 19 Now and in the Future“, offered by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin is now available in Arabic in a self-directed format.

The UNESCO Beirut office has translated the material of the course into Arabic to expand the outreach to all Arabic speaking journalists following the success of 9000 participants from 162 countries taking the original course.

The four-week online training programme aims at providing journalists with the necessary knowledge and tools to cover the COVID-19 health crisis, and the social, financial and political consequences it entails.

The development of the course has been made possible thanks to the collaboration and support from the Knight Foundation, UNESCO, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, and the European Union.

We continue to see journalists play a key role to help us through these challenging times” said Guilherme Canela, chief of the Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Section at UNESCO. “They hold authorities accountable regarding policies to respond to COVID-19, they help citizens stay well informed, and crucially they verify facts amidst the massive wave of disinformation and misinformation that has washed over us alongside the virus. These self-directed courses help journalists help us”, he added.

Divided into four weekly modules, the online course notably covers the past history of pandemics and disasters in the 20th century and how governments responded to these outbreaks. It also examines the initial unfolding of the 2020 pandemic and the fundamental importance of fostering freedom of expression, as well as detecting and combating disinformation and misinformation about the pandemic. The final module looks at story angles for moving coverage forward, and discusses the importance of journalists’ self-care in the process of covering the outbreak.

In the near future, the partners working on the initial course will also offer new learning material for journalists on vaccine-related issues including a 3-hour webinar on COVID-19 vaccine coverage on the 29th of January, 2021. The webinar will be held in English and translated into Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and French simultaneously. Registration is now open and available here.

During times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 outbreak, it is even more important that the public has access to reliable and timely information. Journalists have a key role to play to make the right to freedom of expression, which includes press freedom and access to public information, a reality for all citizens. The course will give journalists from all over the world additional tools, materials and access to specialists to offer quality information on the current crisis and its aftermath.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, highlighted the course during a daily briefing in late August:

We are learning new things about this virus every day and journalists are critical to helping us communicate that information to the public in a way that saves lives”, Ghebreyesus said. “We will continue to promote science, solutions and solidarity because we believe to our core that we do it best when we do it together”, he added.

In order to go through the self-directed course, you can log on to the Arabic version of the course or access any of the available languages here. In addition to Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese, the course will soon be available in Chinese and Hindi.

This course is one of the core activities UNESCO has been developing with its partners to support and celebrate a free, independent and pluralistic press, highlighting once more how central journalism is for our societies, particularly in times like these.

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