International journalists learn about global health from FIU experts

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The Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work and FIU’s Global Health Consortium in partnership with College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts recently hosted the workshop, Global Health for Journalists. The goal of the three-day workshop was to increase overall knowledge of trending global health topics such as nutrition, diabetes, vaccination and anti-microbial resistance among the media who report on the topics.

Carlos Espinal, director of the Global Health Consortium at Stempel College, with Dr. María Luisa Ávila Agüero, former Costa Rican Minister of Health, and Dr. Rolando Ulloa-Gutierrez, infectious disease pediatric expert from Costa Rica.

“The media is often the intermediary between the researchers and the public. They disseminate the information and choose what topics make headlines, which is why it is vital to ensure that the they understand the health topics that are affecting their countries and the world,” said Carlos Espinal, director of the Global Health Consortium.”

More than 20 journalists from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean attended the workshop, which included talks by FIU faculty such as Cristina Palacios, associate professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition; María Elena Villar, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication; and Noël C. Barengo, assistant professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Department of Medical and Population Health Sciences Research as well as Dr. María Luisa Ávila Agüero, former Costa Rican Minister of Health, and Dr. Rolando Ulloa-Gutierrez, infectious disease pediatric expert from Costa Rica.

Here are four takeaways for media from the event:

  1. Be vigilant of source materials. When looking for updated results and the latest statistics, ensuring that the source is trustworthy and offering legitimate information is essential. Peer review journals were recommended by all the speakers as the articles are verified by others in the same field.
  2. Research sources tell a tale. Where researchers got their funds to conduct their studies could help a journalist understand the perspective of the research and possible bias in the way the research was conducted, which can influence the study’s outcomes.
  3. Experts want to contribute and highlight prevention. Researchers want to work with media to disseminate the message that prevention is key in health, and it is the responsibility of journalists to ensure that the messages are delivered accurately.
  4. Telling the story visually. Telling the story visually takes story development, personalities that can carry the story, music and/or ambient noise that brings movement, and visuals such as photos that extend the message.
The journalists, whose backgrounds included general media and health media ranging from print to multimedia, also had the opportunity to learn from peers such as Emiliano Rodriguez Mega, writer for Scientific America and other outlets; and Marisa Venegas, Emmy-award winning reporter and media executive.

The event was supported by two strategic partners, Grupo de Diarios de America and Salud con Lupa.

“We make sure to bring a distinguished group of health and scientific journalists from Latin America. More than a workshop, our event became a discussion forum about the challenges facing health in the region,”said Alejandro Alvarado, director of the Spanish-language journalism master’s progam at FIU and co-chair of the workshop.