On April 8, 2020, Dr. Seema Yasmin joined 81 students and teachers around the world to share her insights on the role of journalism during public health emergencies and how a free press serves as the immune system of a democracy. Dr. Yasmin also led a Q&A with participants, moderated by Pulitzer Center education manager Hannah Berk. You can view a recording of the complete conversation above.
This conversation covers how misinformation spreads alongside contagion, and how journalists and audiences alike can navigate the news landscape during a pandemic. Dr. Yasmin shared her current work communicating with the public about COVID-19, as well as her 2016 reporting on Ebola in Liberia, demonstrating how past epidemics and outbreaks can provide valuable lessons for our present moment. Participants posed questions about how journalists balance telling positive and negative news stories in crisis situations; how publications handle sensitive information that could cause public panic; and how people can take care of their mental health while still staying informed.
Dr. Seema Yasmin is a multimedia reporter, medical doctor, poet, and director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative. You can find the reporting on Ebola in Liberia that she discusses in this webinar here, and you can watch her answer frequently asked questions about the coronavirus in videos like this one.
Here is what some participants wrote about the webinar in a survey:
"I learned a lot about other epidemics and problems around the world and some effects of Covid 19 that I hadn't considered." —Frances, 8th grade
"Fascinating ideas to consider for student engagement with public health reporting, writing, and ways to discuss topics...Hearing a journalist's and writer's perspective, providing the Q&A, and sharing insights about the Pulitzer Center work made it a meaningful experience." —Tina, educator
"I learned the difference between disinformation and misinformation, as well as how to read the news critically." —Saiya, 10th grade
If you would like to explore the issue of reporting on public health emergencies further, you may be interested in this lesson/activity for students. And if you are an educator who would like to invite a journalist for a free virtual visit with your class, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.