A News Blog

When crisis strikes, “old media” (like radio) still shine—often in new ways

Most discussions about the role of media in urgent, breaking news situations—like the Haiti earthquake—focus on new media's advancements in the processes of gathering and distributing news. Twitter and other social networks have played undeniably important roles, but radio—Haiti’s most popular form of media—is key to informing Haitians on the ground, and in North America's Haitian communities.

This CNN story, Low-tech radios connect some Haitians, captures the importance of the medium in Haiti and abroad. See these other examples of how radio is being used in crisis, in new and traditional ways:

*Radio station in the sky warns Haitians not to attempt boat voyage. A U.S. Air Force transport plane is flying five hours a day above Haiti, broadcasting messages recorded in Creole by Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., CNN explains. The messages warn Haitians that if they attempt to travel by boat to the U.S., they’ll be intercepted on the water and returned to their country. They also explain how to access aid.

*BBC to start Creole broadcasts to Haiti. Starting Saturday (Jan. 23), BBC will begin broadcasting in Haiti’s national language for the first time. Connexion Haiti, a daily 20-minute program, will air in the mornings on FM radio in Haiti’s six largest cities and towns. Any station in the country will have free and unlimited access to the program, BBC’s Americo Martins explains. “The show will focus on practical information and public health advice. The aim is to provide a lifeline to the survivors of the tragedy and to try to bring information about missing people,” he says.

*Local radio stations broadcast humanitarian programs. “News You Can Use,” a program produced in Creole by Internews, a U.S.-based media support organization, was first broadcast Thursday and will be produced every day. The first program included information about water distribution and waste disposal. It also discouraged uncoordinated removal of bodies, and it corrected rumors about a mandatory curfew in Port-au-Prince.

Internews sent an assessment team to Haiti shortly after the earthquake, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. (See the Miami Herald.) Also see Columbia Journalism Review’s interview with the CEO of Internews, and stories about the project by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and On the Media.

Other Related Headlines:
» In Haiti, UN radio station resumes broadcasts with French support (UN News Service)
» Haitian radio key link for survivors (video) (AFP)