MindaNews-UNESCO journ trainings focus on pandemic, disasters, conflict and digital security  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 May) – MindaNews is gearing up to conduct a series of safety trainings for Mindanawon journalists on how to cover dangerous and stressful assignments such as armed conflict, natural disasters, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and digital security.

With support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – Jakarta, the Davao City-based news outfit is holding several online trainings to help instill a safety mindset, especially among young journalists.

The trainings are part of a series on “Strengthening Safety of Journalists and Professional Journalistic Standards in the Philippines,” a project of UNESCO supported by the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust

MindaNews was founded in 2001 by independent, professional journalists in Mindanao and has been reporting on the island’s many faces and facets in the past 20 years.

Amalia Cabusao,  training director of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism which runs MindaNews, said the trainings will take into account the lessons learned from the decades-long coverage on Mindanao.

“Blessed with rich natural resources, over which wars have been waged and environmental degradation a contributory factor to the many disasters that have been happening, Mindanao is a rich material for journalists within and outside the island,” she said.

“Participants can learn from their colleagues on how to address safety concerns while covering wars, disasters, threats and harassments, even digital security issues, through sharing of actual experiences and practical tips,” she added.

The four-course trainings will be conducted for a maximum of 20 participants each for the regional groupings of Caraga-Davao, Zamboanga-Northern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro-Soccsksargen.

All the trainings will be done online through the Zoom platform due to the travel restrictions imposed by different local government units to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A certificate of completion will be given to participants who will attend all four courses in their respective regions.

Dr. Thaddeus Milay Averilla, Infection Control Committee head of Madonna Medical Center Inc., will handle the training on “Safety in Covering the Pandemic.”

This course will provide participants with a general view of  the science behind COVID-19 and the updates as regards vaccine. It will also enable journalists to sift through what is myth from fact with the infodemic going on, to be able to clearly inform the public. To further enhance the learnings of journalists, the topic will be divided into three areas namely: Basics of COVID; COVID Vaccines, and; Journalism in the time of COVID: Practical Tips.

The training is set on June 4 for Caraga and Davao regions, July 2 for Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao regions, and July 23 for Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro regions.

Red Batario, executive director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, will handle the training on “Safety in Covering Disasters.” Batario is also Southeast Asia coordinator for the International News Safety Institute.

This course will provide journalists with the tools to ensure safety before, during and after coverage. It will also provide them with mechanisms to analyze the risks they face and the information they need to assess the degree of risk so that they can make sensible decisions even before coverage.

The training will be held on June 18 for Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao regions, July 16 for Caraga and Davao regions, and August 20 for Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro regions.

The training on “Digital Safety of Journalists” will be handled by Julie Alipala, the Zamboanga City-based reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

This course will provide the foundational concepts on digital security, online safety and ethical participation and engagement of journalists in the digital world. It also seeks to empower journalists with knowledge on Unesco’s UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The training is slated on June 25 for Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao regions, July 30 for Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro regions, and August 13 for Caraga and Davao regions.

Carolyn O. Arguillas, editor-in–chief of MindaNews will conduct the training on “Covering Peace and Conflict in Mindanao.” She will focus on the situation across Mindanao’s six regions and the many challenges, including safety issues, that journalists face in reporting on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as it transitions under a Post-Peace Agreement phase; in conflict areas in Mindanao where government has ended peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, which represents the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army in the peace talks; and the implementation of a new anti-terrorism law.

The training is set on August 27 for Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao regions, September 3 for Caraga and Davao regions, and September 17 for Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro regions.

To join the trainings, here’s the link for Mindanawon journalists: https://forms.gle/FhrZcQa7u65rr8eC7.  (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)