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Our top 10 tips for media in the COVID-19 ‘info-demic’

Genevieve Hutchinson, Senior Health Advisor, Advisory & Policy Team

Our top 10 tips for media in the COVID-19 ‘info-demic’

Rumours and mis- and dis-information, including false cures and the disease’s spread, can be as harmful as the virus itself. Here are our top tips for media reporting on public health emergencies to help make sure audiences are informed, connected to the services they need, and inspired to cope.

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Posts

  • Period talk in South Sudan: community volunteers inspire change for women and girls

    Jane Kenyi

    Community Mobilisation Officer, BBC Media Action

    It was a turbulent 30-minute flight from Juba to Torit, in a small plane. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery from my window seat, green hills, valleys, groups of thatched huts, roads and lanes, before we landed on the rough gravel airstrip, which is dusty during the dry season and very muddy during the rainy season.

    I had travelled to Torit for training as part of our sexual and reproductive health and rights project. We run community mobilisation in partnership with civil society organisations by training supervisors and volunteers to implement activities at the grassroots level. Through our listening groups, families and communities come together to listen to our radio programme, Let’s Talk About Us, have discussions and find solutions to address issues they identify.

    The factual 15-minute radio programme aims to dispel common misconceptions about sexual and reproductive health, to tell people’s stories – both positive and negative - and feature health experts. The topics talk about men and women, their relationships, their bodies, and their health, addressing harmful norms and misinformation on family planning, sexually transmitted infections and menstrual hygiene; power dynamics…

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  • 'Thoughts of my Burmese friends haunt me still' - reflecting on Myanmar

    Dipak Bhattarai

    Series producer, BBC Media Action Myanmar

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    BBC Media Action Myanmar Series Producer Dipak Bhattarai was working in Yangon when the military coup took place in the early morning of 1 February. He reflects on the experience of living under a military-controlled Myanmar, and what it means for the journalists and friends who remain there.

    It was not even 5 o’clock in the morning. I was getting ready for my morning walk when I got a call from a colleague. Surprised by her call so early in the morning, I picked it up with some dread.

    She said, “I think Aung Sang Suu Kyi and President Win Myint have been arrested. One of the NLD members has posted it on his Facebook.”

    I didn’t go for my morning walk that day. I started calling my colleagues instead.

    I knew what would happen next. Sixteen years before, to the day, in 2005, I was a reporter in Kathmandu when the Nepali King Gyanendra fired Nepal’s elected prime minister and declared a state of emergency. From experience, I knew that phones and internet would quickly be restricted. I hurriedly messaged my manager, country director and my daughters in Nepal, called my family members, and dropped a message into my Nepali diaspora Facebook Messenger group.

    Information started to…

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  • Supporting public interest media in Ethiopia

    Mihret Aschalew

    Project manager, BBC Media Action Ethiopia

    It has been just two years since Ethiopia proudly hosted Unesco’s annual World Press Freedom Day conference, a moment of pride and hope for the country’s media landscape.

    Much has changed in those two years – as it has for media around the world. Political, legal and especially economic pressures are making it more difficult for independent media everywhere to survive. Ethiopia's economy has been severely affected by the global pandemic, and both public and private media organisations are reporting significant advertising revenue losses. They are also facing additional operational costs to ensure the safety and security of their journalists.

    Yet, while the pandemic has intensified media's financial struggles, it has also unleashed an infodemic of false and misleading information, which makes reliable media all the more important in ensuring people can access information they trust.

    So, how do you support public interest media in a country such as Ethiopia? BBC Media Action is leading Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development, funded by UK Aid and working across Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh, to help tackle some of these challenges.

    A diverse group of partners

    H…

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  • How to address women’s rights amid conflict and instability – our work in Libya

    Ghufran Ashor

    Business Manager, BBC Media Action North Africa

    As Libya struggles with conflict and instability, gender inequality persists. Cycles of violence and foreign interference are badly weakening chances of durable peace, leaving Libyan women particularly at risk. And harmful stereotypes remain about women’s participation in society and their ability to contribute to a sustainable peace.

    Recently, Hanan El Baraasi, an outspoken Libyan lawyer and activist, was murdered in broad daylight for her activism in Benghazi. El Baraasi lost her life for being a vocal activist criticising corruption in Libya. Yet upon her death, many Libyans argued that…

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  • Handing the microphone to Afghan women

    Shazia Haya

    Presenter, Open Jirga, BBC Media Action Afghanistan

    Four Afghan women were killed in as many days in March 2021 – targeted for being women working in television and in medicine. As Afghanistan’s peace process is marked by increasing violence, we held remarkable sessions of our Open Jirga and WhatMatters2U programmes, giving women from the farthest corners of the country a voice.

    The only thing more worrying than COVID-19 in Afghanistan now is the threat of bombings and violence. More than a year after the Taliban signed a deal with the United States, a wave of assassinations continues, targeting journalists, judges and activists in drive-by…

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  • “I want my voice to be heard” – how young radio co-hosts are pushing for gender equality in Sierra Leone

    Mary Morgan and Mariama Sesay

    Head of Production and Senior Producer, Sierra Leone

    Tamu, a guest co-host in BBC Media Action’s girls’ empowerment radio show, Wae Gyal Pikin Tinap

    “The best person to advocate for a girl is the girl herself,” says 16-year-old Tamu in Sierra Leone.

    Tamu is co-presenting on a special episode of BBC Media Action radio programme Wae Gyal Pikin Tinap (‘When a Girl Child Stands Strong’) to mark International Women’s Day 2021. The episode looks at this year’s theme - #choosetochallenge - through the eyes of girls: how girls see inequity in Sierra…

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  • How Somali women are supporting the country’s economy – and its future

    Mohammed A. Gaas

    Deputy Country Director, Somalia

    In Somalia, traditional gender roles and cultural norms run deep, and women running small businesses have often done so out of circumstance: widowhood, divorce, or a family that is otherwise struggling amid high rates of unemployment. In these situations, women frequently support their households by selling market goods such as tea, charcoal, vegetables, milk or khat leaves.

    But these cultural norms are changing, as a growing number of young Somali women returning home from abroad go into business to attain financial freedom and to maintain control over their own lives.

    This is a clear…

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  • Supporting independent radio in Zambia

    Vanessa Mweemba

    Co-ordinating mentor, BBC Media Action Zambia

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    In Zambia, sometimes the greatest challenge to independent radio is simply staying on air.

    We have a lively media scene here in Zambia, although editorial standards are not always high, and most small community radio stations struggle to make ends meet. Among their many challenges are frequent power cuts which may last for up to eight hours a day – jeopardising programming, audience loyalty, and precious advertising space and revenue.

    They also struggle with low salaries and high staff turnover. They often lack insight into who their audiences are and what they need to hear, and don’t have…

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  • Media at scale during a pandemic – COVID-19 in Nigeria

    Kaleem Khan

    Country Director. Nigeria

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    The past year has been an incredibly challenging time for journalists and programme makers across the world. I remember telling my team in Nigeria at the outset of the pandemic in February 2020 that what we communicate to our audiences may save lives.

    It was a daunting and uncertain time. The Government of Nigeria responded quickly with an unprecedented “stay at home order” in several Nigerian states.

    The lockdown order immediately put the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians at risk. The prices of staple goods started increasing as people across the country prepared to stay at home to curtail…

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  • Continuing the fight against COVID-19 in Ethiopia

    Annis Tefferi

    Social Media Producer, BBC Media Action Ethiopia

    Amid unrest and pandemic fatigue, our Ethiopia team is working to deliver trusted information about COVID-19 as well as inspirational stories about how people are coping. Our social media producer Annis Tefferi gives us the behind-the-scenes view.

    I joined BBC Media Action earlier this year as the pandemic was beginning, when we were just starting to understand the huge impact it would have on our work and on our society. Since then we have worked through a six-month national emergency, and adjusted under difficult circumstances to continue providing trusted health information in multiple…

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