Disaster Coverage Program for Hispanic Journalists

How well prepared are journalists from the U.S. Hispanic media and the media organizations of Latin America, which typically have far fewer resources, to provide ample coverage? How much less prepared are the people whom these journalists serve when they confront disaster? How well prepared are the journalists themselves, who are after all among the ranks of “first responders” at the scene of any disaster?

To provide answers to these questions, ICFJ developed an 8-day training program for 14 U.S. Hispanic and Latin American journalists on “Emergency Preparedness: Reporting on Disasters” to improve their skills in reporting and responding to emergency events. As a program model, ICFJ drew from its ongoing and successful program “Covering Immigration” – sponsored by the McCormick Tribune Foundation. As such, “Reporting on Disasters” blended seminar and discussion sessions with access to a broad range of experts and official sources who deal with the effects of disasters, then interwove these program components with the opportunity for the participating journalists to report on disaster-related issues. Like the immigration program, “Reporting on Disasters” offered the participants the opportunity to forge lasting professional and personal relationships among themselves, their program faculty and ICFJ staff.

The program, in two phases, began in Washington, DC on May 12– the nerve center of the U.S. federal response to disasters of all kinds. The second phase took place on May 14 in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, a city still dazed by the effects of Katrina. There, journalists studied continuing hurricane recovery efforts, visited emergency relief agencies and programs stationed in the Gulf Coast region since the storm. In reporting on what they find in both cities, they drew lessons they can apply while covering future disasters for their own media organizations.

Program Dates:
5/10/2008 - 5/17/2008
Program Type

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Contact Info

Luis Botello
Senior Program Director

International Center for Journalists
2000 M St. NW, Suite 250
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 737-3700

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