African Journalists Ebola Crisis Report

An Exploration of the Lived Experience of African Journalists During the 2014 Ebola Crisis. 

One would think that in the digital era clear, factual information could spread like viruses.

Yet, in the case of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, which claimed over 11,000 lives, the virus propagated faster than reliable data, leaving local journalists facing both an unprecedented epidemic and a shortage of credible information. Produced by researchers in Department of Journalism at Concordia University (Montreal) and the World Federation for Science Journalists (WFSJ), this report explores the key professional, technological and social elements impacting journalists and leading to the information crisis that surrounded Ebola in 2014. Achieved through qualitative surveys, face-to-face semi-structured interviews and an open access online survey with members of the WFSJ, the findings highlight the experiences of participant journalists including 81% facing challenges while producing journalism about Ebola;

Credibility being a key issue, 93% of participants expressing a pressing desire for new ways to improve the use of credible information during an outbreak such as Ebola;

A difficulty contacting experts and the challenge o flacking a collaborative environment.

As shown in the report, it was not so much the accessibility but the credibility of information that often felt to be missing during the Ebola outbreak. According to the participants, effective journalism for future health crises thus requires improving real-time collaboration between the health sector, governmental agencies, and journalists, as well as the use of verification tools.