A crash course in changing the world.
The section on outbreak communication in Learn 9 covers how journalists SHOULD report responsibly during crisis. This is a very important issue especially when one looks at the role the media – particularly community radio stations - supposedly played in “fuelling” various crisis eg. The Rwandan genocide and the post-election violence in Kenya. Remember the War of the Worlds radio show about a Martian invasion of planet earth? The story was read as a radio broadcast in 1938 using a series of simulated news bulletins. The radio station ran no commercials during the broadcast which prompted many listeners in the US to believe an actual invasion was taking place! Perhaps the limited access to alternative sources of information contributed to this.
So, what do people do if they do not have access to (credible) information during a crisis? for Kenya, during the post-election violence SMS was used to spread disinformation and fear. Because the media were seen as partisan, text messages from various "camps" reporting atrocities and advicing on actions to take to "protect yourself" spread like wildfire.
This made me realize how important having a credible source of regular information that can reach citizens wherever they may be (rural or urban) in a language that they understand (English, Swahili, vernacular) and in a medium that is accessible to them (television, radio, cell phone, newspaper etc). Information not just convering what is happening but advising on action that one can/should be taking as a citizen and addressing fears that usually accompany crisis.