DOH-6 orients Iloilo media on health events’ ethical reporting

WVSU-COC Dean Dr. Ian Espada said journalists should be sensitive when covering health-related events during the DOH-6’s orientation on ethical reporting of health events for media practitioners on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. (John Noel E. Herrera)

By John Noel E. Herrera

How do journalists deal with ethical challenges when covering health-related events in the region and why responsible journalism is important and needs to be practiced all the time?

These were just some of the questions that were discussed during the Department of Health (DOH)-6’s orientation on ethical reporting of health events for media practitioners on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

“This is to enhance the knowledge and skills of the media in reporting, particularly health events and potential disclosure of information like those in HIV, monkeypox cases and even COVID-19 cases,” DOH-6 media team head Alma Estember said.

Estember added that the orientation is one way for journalists to know where and how to set boundaries between what is ethical reporting and “feeding the need for information of our public.”

“We have witnessed these so much during the pandemic, because everybody is in lockdown, wala sang source of information, but only media, kag during that time daw tanan na lang naging reporter and there were a lot of news nga hindi ma discern ang tuod kag hindi,” she said.

Dr. Ian Espada, Dean of West Visayas State University-College of Communication (WVSU-COC) shared that media practitioners should be sensitive when covering health-related events, such as suicide and the spread of diseases, as it primarily tackled the medical conditions, private information, and life of individuals.

He noted that journalists should know how to properly ask questions to victims of accidents and harassment as these could trigger anxiety and trauma.

“Let’s be accurate and report facts. Avoid rumors and try not to speculate as there will be a huge amount of misinformation circling, so, be aware of how to spot and debunk misinformation (and disinformation),” Espada said.

“Isa pa gid, when it comes to posting of photos, may ara ya nga naga-dugo na ya, wasak ang ulo, yet gina post, may times colored pa, which is wrong. And also the sensationalism of stories para madamo followers, but then it is not responsible (and ethical) journalism,” he added.

Espada also discussed mental health management for journalists, noting that reporters need time to refresh their minds as well from the information and stress absorbed from fieldwork.

“Your work is important, but so too is your health,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, Espada expressed plans to collaborate with media practitioners and other stakeholders to discuss some of the issues in journalism, including the ethics in reporting and the gaps between the academe and the industry.

“Kami sa academe, gusto man namon nga from time to time, ma keep in touch with the practitioners to remind all these things, to discuss and also to give refreshers about ethical practices,” he added.