Nieman guide to covering pandemic flu launched

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has launched a “comprehensive online guide to covering pandemic flu.”

The new website, Covering Pandemic Flu, is aimed specifically at journalists.

The foundation is calling the new resource a “one-stop resource designed to help reporters, editors, producers and other media professionals understand the complexities of the flu story.”

A press release announcing the launch states:

“As misconceptions about the flu, the H1N1 vaccine, government preparedness and other issues continue to swirl and confuse the public, careful, well-researched reporting on the topic is more important than ever. And with both seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination campaigns and other response measures coming into full swing this fall and winter, coverage that neither sensationalizes nor sugarcoats the news is crucial.”

Some topics covered by the new website include:

  • An Introduction to Influenza – overview of the disease
  • The Science – essential information about the basic biological mechanisms that drive both seasonal and pandemic flu
  • Pandemic Preparedness – an outline of the major arguments driving preparedness efforts
  • Pandemic Reporting – stories of struggles, observations, insights, tips and story ideas from veteran flu reporters including Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press; Maryn McKenna, independent journalist; Maggie Fox, Reuters; Margie Mason, The Associated Press, and Alan Sipress, The Washington Post.
  • Crisis Communication – a rare view into the inner world of public health message-making, including frank accounts by communication specialists from WHO and the CDC
  • A History of Pandemics – a quick overview of past pandemics that shape current discussions
  • Glossary – a list of the major terms used by officials and scientists, and their definitions.
  • Resources & Links – a list that will help journalists sort through some of the major Web sites and online resources that provide information on various aspects of the flu story.