Preventive journalism and coverage of risk situations – A media professional’s guide to avian influenza




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This publication is intended to serve as a guide to journalists in different media segments on preventive, risk, and crisis communication.

Although the focus is on a potential future influenza pandemic in Latin America arising from avian flu, the pages that follow set forth concepts and tools to assist journalists in other crisis situations, including natural disasters, armed conflicts, environmental catastrophes, and phytosanitary disease outbreaks.

In addition to providing general information on avian flu and its impact on populations – particularly children and adolescents – the guide offers analyses and considerations on the media’s relevant role in the public debate. Far from presenting prepackaged solutions, the text below sets out to identify avenues and approaches capable of contri buting toward more comprehensive and contextualized coverage.

In the event of the threat of a human influenza pandemic, preventive journalism can point us toward a responsible agenda by delineating the actual dimensions of the risk and helping to avert public panic. Accurate news coverage is an essential element in preparing Latin American and Caribbean countries to confront a future pandemic.

This entails not only educating people on the proper hygienic practices for preventing infection, but also encouraging the public to take active part in efforts to combat the spread of the virus and disease by demanding effective action from government officials.