Concussion Legacy Foundation launches CLF Media Project to train journalists, students how to best report on concussions

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Panelists L-R: CLF co-founder and Medical Director Dr. Robert Cantu; distinguished sports journalists Olivia Stomski, Bob Costas, and J.A. Adande; CLF co-founder and CEO Chris Nowinski, Ph. D. 

(New York, NY) –The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) announced the launch of the Concussion Legacy Foundation Media Project today, a program to keep working journalists informed on the latest guidelines and train journalism students across the country how to report on concussions with the goal of ensuring audiences receive the right information about this critical public health issue. Distinguished sports journalists Bob Costas, J.A. Adande, and Olivia Stomski launched the program at a press conference alongside CLF co-founders Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. and Robert Cantu, M.D.

“The guidelines on covering concussions are changing all the time,” said Hall of Fame sportscaster Bob Costas. “Until now, there has never been a resource for journalists to stay current on the science, the protocols, or the appropriate terminology.”

“Many children first learn about concussions through watching sports,” said Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “We are excited to provide training programs for journalists, so the media can better educate parents, kids, and coaches how to recognize and respond to concussions.”

The CLF Media Project has two tracks. The Concussion Reporting Workshop, a three-hour concussion reporting course, will educate journalism students. It is being piloted this fall at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism under the leadership of Adande and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications under Stomski and will be piloted in the spring at Boston University’s College of Communication by distinguished journalist and lecturer Andrea Kremer. Adande, Kremer and Stomski serve as advisors to the program and collaborated with CLF to develop the curriculum.

“You can’t cover sports without covering concussions,” said J.A. Adande, Director of Sports Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and former ESPN reporter. “Part of preparing any sports journalism student for a professional career must include a concussion education component.”

“The CLF Concussion Reporting Workshop gives professors cutting-edge tools to teach the next generation of journalists how to report on the nuances of concussions, such as differentiating between concussion signs and symptoms, and knowing a concussion is a brain injury, not a head injury,” said Olivia Stomski, Director of Syracuse University’s Newhouse Sports Media Center and former FOX Sports producer.

In the second track, working media professionals can access the CLF Media Toolkit and earn their Concussion Reporting Certificate. CLF partnered with Qstream, an interactive microlearning platform, to develop a test that presents scenario-based questions to confirm media professionals are educated on the proper medical management protocols for concussions, and use the right terminology, to continue covering concussions the right way.

“It is my responsibility to my audience to know the sport I am covering inside and out,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame journalist Andrea Kremer, who is currently part of the first female-only team to call NFL games, on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football. “Concussions are now part of the knowledge base that journalists have to master.”

According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), most children from lower income families still do not receive formal concussion education, and other research shows most youth coaches have not been trained to recognize or appropriately respond to concussions. Sports media is a way to educate these hard-to-reach groups and help keep children safe in sports.

“Journalists reach millions of people doctors can’t,” said CLF medical director Robert Cantu, M.D. “Most concussions are still not diagnosed, so by identifying the signs of a concussion, talking about the proper response, and avoiding words like “dinged” or “bell-rung,” reporters can perform a valuable public service and maybe even save a life.”

The CLF Media project was made possible thanks to the support of the Oak Foundation.

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