Our former Global Health grantee, Martina Merten, organised a session on Global Health Reporting, The Value of Quality Journalism in Times of Crises.
“We don’t need global health grants once in a blue moon – when donor organisations feel pressured by a global health crisis. We do need a sustainable support system for health journalism so that interest in public and global health analysis can stay alive.”-Martina Merten, global health specialist
The panel discussed the challenges of health journalists around the world. Each panellist spoke about the situation in their region and the importance of how journalists need to be trained, reliable and in-depth stories need to be funded and the gap between scientists and journalists needs to be bridged.
Marjan Tillmans talked about the EJC funding programmes and why funding is important - many media have a lack of financial resources and grants facilitate and strengthen reliable, in-depth reporting. This reliable reporting is a way to counter misinformation and distrust in the media, it addresses gaps in crucial issues and knowledge, and it holds governments and decision-makers to account.
Our grant programs are funded by various donors, with the largest contributor being the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 2013 we have supported media houses and freelancers so they could report on development topics.
Our Global Health funds for freelancers started in 2016. We supported freelancers to report on health topics in the Global South with a link to Europe. In the last 5 years, we awarded close to 130 grants, which resulted in over 300 stories published in more than 130 mainstream media outlets in Europe and beyond. The grantees reported on a wide range of (underreported)topics: covid (a.o. vaccine equity, vaccine hesitancy), ebola, malaria, new pandemic threats (such as zoonoses, mental health, neglected tropical diseases, addiction, cancer, multidrug-resistance etc. etc.
These stories had an enormous impact: first and foremost, they informed the public, but they also led to conversations with experts and officials, grantees won awards, grantees were invited to speak at conferences and in a few cases the story published even led to formal investigations.
In the end, Marjan briefly talked about the importance of Solutions Journalism. Research shows that many people avoid the news as they get tired of hearing only about natural disasters, war, crime, suffering etc. This leads to a feeling of powerlessness, it has a negative impact on their mood, and well-being and their trust in journalism diminishes. There is an important role to play for the media to counter intentional news avoidance. They need to change news content to make it less negative and more constructive, less opinionated, more fact-based, and more transparent.
Solutions Journalism investigates and explains how people try to solve widely shared problems. While journalists usually define news as “what’s gone wrong,” solutions journalism is leading an effort to expand that definition: responses to problems are also newsworthy. By adding evidence-based coverage of solutions, journalists can tell the whole story. We can learn from others, who are working on a response elsewhere.
In case you missed our latest Solutions Journalism guide: an introduction for journalists and newsrooms, you can download it for free on the button below: