The Virtual Journalism Learning Center collaborated with Colombian journalism organization, Consejo de Redacción to offer a course to its members on “How to Report on Natural Disasters and Crisis Situations” on December 13 taught by Argentinean journalist Sandra Crucianelli. CdR members learned about the basic strategies and decision-making skills needed to cover a crisis situation (flood, earthquake, health pandemic, etc.).
This course comes at an important time when Colombian journalists have experienced some specific crises.
“We have had some crisis situations recently in Colombia,” Miriam Forero Ariza, project coordinator of the Consejo de Redacción said. “Two of our main cities had failures in their water system making lots of people lose their access to that resource, one of those cities also had problems in the system that provides gas to houses, and because of the winter (which in Colombia consists in months of a lot of raining) many towns are in floods. So this shows how necessary a training like the one [with the VJLC] was.”
Sandra Crucianelli, instructor of the virtual training said this kind of training is important for all journalists.
“I think the crisis scenarios give a challenge to all journalists,” she said. “It’s not enough to know how to write about it or know what to ask. The journalist also has to know the angle and tone of the story, as well as looking carefully at each stage of the crisis appropriately.”
Forero Ariza said this collaboration was an enriching experience for their members. In particular, Ángela Hurtado who went through the training said, “It was a great experience, because a journalist rarely has the opportunity to ‘practice’ what would be reported in an emergency situation,” she said.
Another journalist found the experience enriching because of the opportunity to practice the techniques learned and role-play crisis scenarios.
“As a journalist, this scenario favors a practical experience that suggests the importance of knowing the proper techniques for the coverage on crisis issues,” Johanna Bejarano said. “In addition, having the opportunity to practice other roles [official sources, victims] we get to stand in the shoes of others and that’s important.”
The Virtual Journalism Learning Center will be working with Consejo de Redacción on more training opportunities in 2012.
“We would absolutely love to have another collaboration with the VJLC,” Forero Ariza said. “Our members who participated in the workshop are very grateful and think more training opportunities like this should be given in the whole country.”