Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Disasters are truly global now

No matter where they happen, disasters now necessitate a global response.You can no longer just worry about your local stakeholders and audiences. Others also help shape public opinion.

Amplify’d from

How Social Media, Internet Changed Experience of Japan Disaster

Dorian Benkoil

by Dorian Benkoil, March 15, 2011

Tagged: ap, cell video, earthquake, facebook, ipad, japan, kobe, nhk, streaming video, tsunami, twitter

The reports and pictures of the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last week reminded me of reporting on the earthquake that leveled Japan's port city of Kobe in 1995.

On a personal level, I am praying for the people in a country I have come to see as a second home.

As a media observer, what struck me this time was how rich and multifaceted the information flow was. In 1995, I worked in the AP bureau in Tokyo, trying to understand what I could from Japanese broadcast news reports. We were sometimes able to reach someone, official or not, in the Kobe region via phone for a quick interview as the death toll rose, eventually reaching more than 6,400.

We, of course, covered the major news conferences held by agencies and government offices. For information from the region, I relied largely on the reporters and photographers  (including me three weeks and then six months after the quake) who were dispatched to the scene. Listening to and watching the broadcast channels and the other wire services was an overwhelming and chaotic but -- by today's standards -- thin experience.

Multi-platform Experience Today

The past few days, sitting at home and in my office in New York, it felt like I had more information and contacts at my fingertips than I did then as a reporter in Japan. The morning I learned of the quake, I had a TV connected to digital cable, an iPad, a Blackberry and a web-connected computer in my living room.

I flipped among ABC, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and BBC on TV. An iPad app gave me video of quake alerts in English and other languages from Japanese national broadcaster NHK. I dipped into the Twitter and Facebook streams.


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