Outbreak Abroad

Sierra Leone, into the Ebola epicentre, by European Commission DG ECHO Flickr Image. How do journalists in different nations report infectious disease outbreaks?

"Outbreak. The word spawns chills and premonitions of hacking coughs, boils, oozing sores and death. Emerging viruses in the Middle East or East Asia, such as MERS and H7N9, are certainly frightening, but how does the coverage by outsider media compare to the sentiments of those reporting from ground zero of an epidemic?

This story concept spawned from a conversation that I once had about the taboos instilled against certain regions by global news coverage of infectious disease outbreaks.

Together, because this is an Open Project, we’ll investigate whether that’s true and much more. I will conduct multiple rounds of interviews to see how reporter perceptions’ evolve during an outbreak and after it has ‘resolved’ (either lost media steam or stopped spreading).

I will interview journalists and bloggers living near the epicenter of an outbreak and compare their views with those covering the situation from abroad. The current Ebola outbreak will be the ideal case study."

Nsikan Akpan, SciLogs.com blogger and science journalist based in Washington DC.

Outbreak Abroad is the 2nd  installment of #OpenSciLogs, a new project at SciLogs.com designed to introduce crowd-funded, open, participatory science reporting to the science blogosphere and beyond. Please help us fund this project, help tell the story yourself, and the bulk of all funds raised will go to health organizations working in West Africa.