ARTICLE: Best practices for disaster reporting

Picture: Humans Under Water by Surian Soosay, license CC BY 2.0

Disaster reporting has faced a lot of critique. How should it be done properly? Jacqui Ewart and Hamish McLean, of Griffith University Australia, went through the research on news media coverage on disasters and did interviews with senior emergency managers in eight countries: Australia, Germany, Sweden, Canada, the United States, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

The researchers came up with a best practice schema for journalists. This includes reporting in two phases: before the disasters occur and as they unfold. The authors provide a checklist as a categorized set of principles and approaches.

Having a plan for covering disasters and establishing cooperative relationships with emergency management organisations is important, the interviewees stated. Considering interviewing and writing the news, suggestions included considering the needs of those affected by disasters and understanding the pressures that emergency managers face in providing information.

Images used should be representative of the extent of the disaster, and information from social media should be verified, the authors note. The interviewees also remarked the possible problems caused by various news media competing to cover the event.

The article “Best practice approaches for reporting disasters” was published in Journalism and is available on the publisher’s website (abstract free).

Picture: Humans Under Water by Surian Soosay, license CC BY 2.0

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