UNESCO supports development of COVID-19 reporting guidelines for journalists

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) with funding from the European Union supported the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) to develop COVID-19 Reporting Guidelines for journalists. The Guidelines seek to capacitate reporters with skills on how to report effectively during the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking at the launch of the Guidelines in Bulawayo, VMCZ Executive Director Mr. Loughty Dube said the media has a huge role to play during the pandemic. He said journalists have the task to diseeminate correct information timeously in order to save lives. He said the Guidelines would equip journalists with skills to do their job safely and effectively. Mr. Dube said the Guidelines were part of the disaster communication ecology to ensure journalists did their job safely, ethically and effectively.

He added that quick information dissemination helps curb the further spread of the disease by sensitising communities, alerting policy makers and driving a positive behaviour change. To achieve this, news reports must be sharp, short, simplified, ethical and written with purpose.

Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) Coordinator, Mr Nigel Nyamutumbu said the Guidelines would go a long way in countering misinformation and fake news around the COVID-19 pandemic, broadening the spectrum in reporting the pandemic and strength reporting on scientific issues.

The COVID-19 Reporting Guidelines were produced with the involvement of various stakeholders including VMCZ, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ).
Some of the topics tackled in the Guidelines include information crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting on the pandemic, solutions-based journalism, tips on covering the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigating risks in the newsroom, dealing with unproven information and myths as well as the basics of health and science reporting.