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Online training course 'improves electoral coverage'

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Dozens of Venezuelan journalists took part in an online learning course to develop their coverage of the national elections held on Sunday (October 7th). Offered by the Carter Centre's Programme to Strengthen Journalism in Venezuela and the Knight Centre for Journalism in the Americas, the course used distance learning to educate writers on election law. The Spanish-language online course - which took place between May 12th and June 9th of this year - was led by Peruvian journalist Jacqueline Fowks through Knight Centre's digital education platform. Journalists of varying political affiliations were invited to share their opinions on the challenges of the forthcoming elections while improving their objectivity and balance. Ms Fowks commented that the course offered writers from across the nation the chance to have both virtual and personal contact with colleagues. She said: "Most of them started a new professional link with colleagues and they were able to keep in touch during the campaign, to verify or share information, to help each other in general." Throughout the course, many of the journalists became aware of how crucial their role is towards the Venezuelan electoral campaigns in a society so polarised, she added. The online training sessions included exercises, audiovisual presentations and debates, as well as in-person workshops organised by the Carter Centre and delivered by Ms Fowks. Discussions covered a range of topics such as how to balance sources in reports and the best way to write about the Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, but the majority of the content was based around the challenges of election coverage. Ms Fowks stated that "an equable press, a press with a will for dialogue - and not only attack - could have made a difference for voters who needed information to make a decision". The Knight Centre for Journalism is due to launch a massive open online course at the end of the month, offering students worldwide an e-learning programme on infographics and data visualisation.
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