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Tip Sheets

Avian flu: Communicating news of an outbreak

Edited excerpts from a lengthy transcript from "The Next Big (Health) Crisis - And How to Cover It," a conference cosponsored by AHCJ at the Nieman Foundation.

In this session, speakers addressed the relationship between journalists and those who will communicate with journalists during an outbreak of pandemic flu, the preparation that comes in the daily exchanges they are having already with reporters and in working internally to establish guidelines for how best to get information out to the public in ways that are trustworthy and timely.

Speakers on this topic included:

  • Glen Nowak, chief of media relations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He spoke about the challenges of risk communication in real life, real time.
  • Dick Thompson, team leader, WHO Pandemic and Outbreak Communication. He spoke about figuring out what reporters needed to know and how to communicate with them. This led to a report, "Outbreak Communication" that uses five principles. Thompson was a medical and health reporter at Time for many years.