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Knight Study: BroadcastingStill Top Information Source In Emergencies

New media helped connect in
the aid and recovery effort following last year's devastating earthquake in
Haiti, but radio remained the most effective communications tool, though it proved
even more effective in partnership with some of those new technologies.

That is according to a
just-released report from the Knight Foundation.

The report's three key
takeaways are that humanitarian organizations were open to, but nervous about
the implications, of using new technologies like crowd sourcing, that some
turned out to be beneficial, texting in particular, but that the first priority
in Haiti, which was to restore radio service, was the right one since radio was
the "most effective tool for serving the public," as it had been with
the tsunami and other crises.

"Access to radio can
be shared easily and relatively cheaply among many people, and serves both
literate and illiterate populations," the study found.

While interactive maps, crowd-sourcing
information, texting and handheld GPS devices all played a part in the effort,
the report cautions against calling it a new media success story, citing the
fact that there was a lack of coordination and understanding of just how to use
some of the new tools, given that it was a new experience for the new media.

"As in past crises
around the world," Knight said, "radio continued to be the most effective
tool for serving the information needs of the local population."

That said, Mark Frohardit,
VP of humanitarian programs for Internews, which teamed with Knight on the
study, said that some of those new technologies enhanced the effectiveness and
reach of radio.

"The National
Association of Broadcasters is pleased that this report confirms what millions
of people around the globe have already known, that in times of crisis, no
other medium can replicate broadcasting as a first informer service that saves
lives and galvanizes rescue and relief efforts," said NAB spokesman Dennis

The report is based on
experiences and the discussions of CDAC (Communicating with Disaster Affected
Communities), which is described as a "working group of humanitarian
organizations and media development groups," and on a Knight Foundation
roundtable last May that included Haitian journalists, international media
development representatives, development agencies, technologists, emergency
response teams and humanitarian groups, all of which were involved in
communicating during the Haitian relief and rescue effort.

Various news organizations
have been working on spotlighting the run-up to the one-year anniversary of the
quake, (Jan. 12), but that spotlight has unexpectedly had to be shared with the
extensive coverage of the Arizona shootings and their aftermath.