Media Training

COMING SOON!!!! Details of our next professional development event for cancer reporting journalists

ESO organizes workshops on covering cancer stories in the mass media.  These workshops provide journalists with a forum for discussing challenges, sharing solutions and honing their skills in covering stories on all aspects of cancer.  The workshops are open to all journalists with a track record of covering cancer stories in print, on radio and television or online.

Reporting on Cancer
ESO @ #ECC2015 Fellowship

25 September – 29 September 2015 Congress Centre Messe, Vienna, Austria

The European School of Oncology (ESO) is collaborating with the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) to offer grants to up to 15 European health journalists to attend the 18th ECCO - 40th ESMO European Cancer Congress. This is also an opportunity to make contacts, hone skills and learn about what makes the difference in cancer care. Although plenty of advanced science will be discussed, this Congress mainly focuses on issues that are of greatest concern to patients and professionals – skills, organisation, patient involvement, how clinical trials are conducted etc. It is a very practical Congress that should be of great help to any journalist interested in reporting on cancer – one of the greatest challenges for medicine, health care, social care and for good journalism.

The Fellowship will give you full access to the Congress and to the Press Office. In addition there will be a daily meeting of the ESO group on a particular issue so those attending can question some specialists in more detail and share experiences.

We will look at the most important steps for health services to take to improve health outcomes for cancer patients, whether innovations are affordable and tips and pitfalls of reporting on clinical trials. There will be an opportunity to talk to patient advocates about the best way to interview patients and a closing session about the role of journalists in promoting better health care.

Attending the Congress is not a sightseeing visit – it is hard work but very productive. Journalists who are supported by ESO will be expected to attend the Congress and special events, and to follow up on stories. But it is also friendly and fun and an opportunity to share experiences with like-minded colleagues.

There are a limited amount of fellowships available. Successful candidates will receive:
  • 4 night’s accommodation arranged by ESO (26, 27, 28 and 29 September)
  • a grant of up to 500 euros (max) for travel/transfers (travel must be arranged by the participant, it will be refunded after the congress and on production of travel receipts)
  • a per diem of 30 euros per day for food (to be refunded after the congress)

Eligible journalists are:
  • Early and mid-career journalists, freelance or staff, covering health stories in print/broadcast/online mass media, who would not normally have the chance to attend ESMO Congress
  • From any country within the WHO Europe region
  • With an interest in reporting on medical progress from the perspective of the practical implications for patients
Interested applicants should download, complete and return this application form along with a copy of their press card and CV to by 15 July 2015

Past training events

ESMO 2014 Congress, Madrid, 26-30 September 2014

ESO collaborated with the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) to offer 15 health journalists a unique opportunity to attend the ESMO
2014 Congress, to hear the leaders in clinical research talk about progress in treating cancer, including successes and setbacks in moving towards ‘precision medicine’, where treatments are finely tuned to the individual patient, and the molecular characteristics of their cancer and the host tissue.

ESO covered journalists’ travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.

Various sessions were organised for the journalists during the conference to help them get the most out of their attendance and to give them the opportunity to quiz leading researchers, policy makers, politicians and patient advocates, about the implications of latest scientific and medical developments within the context of today’s cash-strapped health services.

The journalist programme that took place can be downloaded here.

A write up and video interviews from the attending journalists can be viewed here.


Off-The Record: Can Europe cope with the rising burden of cancer?
18-19 June 2012, Rome, Italy

Report of the media training conducted by ESO in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union

22 journalists from 17 EU member states and neighbouring countries participated in a two-day training course.

On day 1 the group looked at the statistics showing how your chances of getting and surviving cancer vary considerably across European countries, and looked at all the things that have to be done right to minimise the number of new cases and maximise survival with a good quality of life.

On day 2 the journalists heard from the man who was called in to sort out the UK’s cancer services in 1999, after a set of Europe-wide statistics had convinced the government that the UK’s results were in the bottom half of the European league table. The journalists then took a look at how far other European countries have been taking up the idea of a ‘cancer plan’ or programme to improve services, and this was followed by a panel discussion on “Delivering high-quality cancer care in an age of austerity”, with views from the clinic, from policy making and the pharmaceutical industry.

Comments from the journalists:

“I understand we need to be a bridge between the patient and the policy makers. I would like better statistics to be available in the Ukraine, particularly about survival.”
Tetyana Melnychenko, National Television Ukraine

“I learned there are ways to get a good participation in screening programmes without using financial incentives. It is important to have international statistics and information.”
Naďa Bělovská, Czech Radio

“I was surprised to learn that standards in my country are similar to elsewhere. In Eastern Europe people tend to believe we are not getting what we should, but in fact we all face similar and complex problems.”
Maya Dancheva, Bulgarian National Radio

“I will try to focus more on the patients, not to scare them away because people are scared about illness and I will try to ask these critical questions about how they can get the best treatement.”
Meelis Süld, Estonian Public Broadcasting

“I learnt that it is possible to get better results in cancer, so that there is very good hope. I think we have to work harder, and I’ll try to do this.”
Claudia Laslo, Radio Romania

“If I had to choose a word I would remember this course by, it would be ‘money’ – money is a problem everywhere. But this age of austerity could be a chance for prevention.”
Jasmina Jamnik, RTV Slovenia

“What I will always remember is that every speaker mentioned that one in three of us will have cancer. I think I will start every report of mine with that fact!”
Živilė Kropaitė, LRT Lithuania


Cancer Czar, Mike Richards, explaining how the media had helped focus minds on poor results in the UK
Photo:  Alexandra Zampetti

“Journalists can help improve quality of cancer services says UK Cancer Czar

Report on Mike Richards’ presentation by Peter McIntyre

The best and the worst in Europe – what are they doing that we are not?
Making sense of statistics on new cases, deaths and survival rates in Europe
Silvia Francisci, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

A risky business: reporting on statistics, research results and uncertainty

Kill or cure stories – helping your audience make sense of warnings and advice
Anna Wagstaff, Cancer World magazine

Skill or cure stories – how to interpret and present information from academic studies
Peter McIntyre, Cancer World magazine

Preventing cancer: How do you protect yourself from 200 diseases?
Kathy Redmond, Editor, Cancer World magazine

Screening stories: Avoiding the hard sell
Questions journalists should ask about screening programmes
Elke van Hoof, Head of the Belgian Cancer Centre
Full presentation                                    Simplified version

Where are we going wrong?
What has to be done right, by whom, at each point in the patient’s journey?
Renée Otter, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Groningen, The Netherlands
Part 1              Part 2               Part 3

How can my country get the best results in Europe?

The story behind the creation of the post of Cancer Czar and the implementation of the UK’s cancer plan
Mike Richards, National Cancer Director, UK

World Conference of Science Journalists
ESO Workshop
Sunday 26th June 2011
Cancer - the role of journalists in informing attitudes and beliefs

Slides from the workshop
Informing Attitudes and Beliefs about Cancer
Statistical and other resources

Session overview
Myths and fatalism, together with biased information from vested interests, form a major obstacle to stemming the rising tide of suffering and death from cancer. This interactive workshop is for health, medical and science journalists who want to discuss the challenges of providing accurate information about how to avoid cancer, of covering human stories about the realities of living with cancer, and of promoting an informed debate about priorities in screening, treatment and care for the dying, where resources are limited.


Kathy Redmond, Editor, Cancer World magazine ( and coordinator of the European School of Oncology’s Cancer Media Service, Switzerland.
Anna Wagstaff, Assistant Editor, Cancer World Magazine, UK.


Dispelling common perceptions and misconceptions about cancer:

  • Prevention: We will explore what gives you cancer, what protects you and what cancers cannot be prevented
  • Early detection: We will tease out the pros and cons of cancer screening
  • Treatment: Poorer countries cannot afford good cancer treatments? We will try to dispel the most deadly myth of all
  • Rehabilitation and palliative care: Horrendous pain is inevitable? Cancer must bring social shame? We will explore the various public perceptions that blight the lives of cancer patients
The workshop focused on answering: 
  • How do these myths affect efforts to tackle cancer and support patients and their families? 
  • How can journalists challenge misconceptions and help inform the public? 
  • Can the World Cancer Declaration – an eleven-point tried and tested ‘roadmap’ for tackling cancer across the world – provide a useful framework for journalists trying to promote informed public debate and hold accountable those responsible for the nation’s healthcare and public health?

Previous Workshops

  • Journalist Symposium during the UICC World Cancer Congress Crowne Plaza Hotel, Geneva - August 31st 2008
  • Confronting Cancer in Syria Media Forum with International Experts and the Ministries of Health and Higher Education Le Méridien Damascus, Syria - May 4th 2008

On 4th May the Cancer Media Service and Euro-Arab School of Oncology (EASO) held a press conference in Damascus at the end of the EASO course on Lung cancer and Mesothelioma. The press conference gave journalists the opportunity to listen to and question a variety of speakers from the course as well as a representative from WHO Syria. The conference was attended by 29 journalists from 22 media organisations

Further information

  • Cancer journalism: Meeting the Challenges in Countries with limited resources” World Cancer Congress – July 8th -12th 2006

In July 2006 ESO, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society and the International Union Against Cancer, organised a media satellite event at the World Cancer Congress with the aim of promoting excellence in cancer journalism in countries with limited resources. A number of leading journalists from Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, Hungary, Bulgaria, Bolivia and the Philippines shared their experiences and highlighted ways of meeting the many challenges inherent in reporting cancer in their own country. 


CancerWorld 15 - Spotlight on - Helping the Media get the message