Background: The mission of Cochrane South Africa includes dissemination of information on Cochrane and EBHC to broad stakeholders, including the public. An obvious dissemination channel is the media. We targeted journalism students to introduce them to EBHC, systematic reviews, the Cochrane Library and other resources.
Objective: To increase the knowledge of journalism students about EBHC, systematic reviews and Cochrane.
Methods: Emails were sent to 22 convenors of journalism and media studies courses. Responses were received from the main departments of journalism - the Universities of Stellenbosch (US), Rhodes and the Witwatersrand. The US indicated immediate interest in a workshop for their Journalism Honours students. This was used to pilot the concept and materials. Two two-hour sessions were organised at the Department of Journalism with a month’s gap allowing students to complete an assignment. Learning techniques included interactive lectures, videos, case scenarios, exercises, demonstrations and group work. In session one students were introduced to a case scenario and coached on how to use the steps of EBHC to find the review; and, developed plans in groups for using the evidence for print media, TV, radio and Twitter.
A media-tailored assignment was developed in which six topics were provided and the students were asked to prepare feedback on the steps undertaken to find the information, the findings, and their plan for using this in a story. At session two volunteers presented their work for discussion.
The way forward: Introducing young journalists to EBHC and Cochrane may encourage the next generation of science writers to seek and use best evidence. This piloted programme can be shared with Cochrane trainers and rolled out to other media-training institutions.