Tag: communication

Tackling rumours after Hurricane Irma

Predictably, sadly, the ‘rumour mill’ in the wake of Hurricane Irma is working at full speed. The problem of rumours is recognised by the US government, hence their helpful website. It’s a big challenge now for aid agencies and governments to ensure people receive correct information and information that will shape lives for the better, especially as communities work out how to recover from Hurricane Irma.

Given the devastation to so many lives and livelihoods caused by Hurricane Irma, the last thing that people need is wrong information. Quality information transforms how people are able to move on and rebuild their lives.  However, it is a big task to counter the swirling information flows on the web; information flows that can too often be misleading. It is a massive issue on the web and social media; too many people serving up incorrect information and too many people unable to sift through what they see and read and then double or triple source the authenticity of so-called facts. We are hearing this so often. It’s a recurring theme in political debate. The costs of spreading wrong information can be immense. We may never have thought it some years ago, but the need for everyone to be ‘media literate’ is so important. We all build our information universe online. People need to know how to do this. Too many do not. Too many feed on rumour and falsifications. They feed on creating their ‘Daily Me’, reading sources they tend to agree with rather than seeking diversity and fact-checking, double or triple-sourcing from authentic places, what’s put to them. Courses in media literacy have real practical value.

Hurricane challenges emergency aid

The appalling devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma poses stern tests for the emergency aid and development sector. Will emergency organisations, many of whom say they aid recovery and rebuilding after natural disasters, be able to meet the likely demand? Too many people’s lives and livelihoods have been torn apart by this immense hurricane. The need for a swift recovery once Irma has passed is, of course, paramount.

Challenges and questions are already emerging. Owing to the proximity of the Caribbean to the US, as well as Florida now bearing the brunt of the hurricane, we can anticipate forensic media examination of how well emergency and recovery organisations perform. It’s always a challenge for such organisations to listen to what communities say, to deliver to scale, speedily, for rebuilding/reconstruction and to fend off the predictable complaints that too little help arrived and it arrived too late. Emergency and recovery/rebuilding organisations, usually in the development sector although never underestimate the importance of the military to make things happen, can expect stories in weeks and months to come when the media ‘truth-check’ what was promised and what assistance has actually been delivered. Now, we pray for the safety and well-being of everyone affected by this massive hurricane. More tough challenges posed by Hurricane Irma await.

When news gets harder to report

Away from the oxygen, heat and, sadly, fluff of many news agendas has been the unfolding narrative of Iraqi-government forces retaking the key city of Mosul. Mosul had fallen to IS in 2014 and has now been retaken, with the help of US-coalition forces. Brutal, chilling information emerging about conditions inside Mosul in last three years. Good to read excellent journalism in the London Review of Books by Patrick Cockburn, http://bit.ly/2vUpQ0m. Here’s a BBC background piece, http://bbc.in/2el37PB.