Mark Frohardt, Regional Director, Africa and Director of Conflict Programmes for Internews shared his thoughts on media, SA III and media in post-disaster scenarios in general. Many of those amongst us who have significant experience in traditional and new media participating in SA III have been dissapointed that the interactions and information with the local media – community, mainstream, new, ethnic etc – has been almost non-existant.
As Mark points out however, this is typical of a post-disaster response, where the first responders and the first response mechanisms are rarely plugged into the valubale information networks that local media offer.
Speaking about new and traditional media, Mark emphasised the importance of disconnected traditional media such as FM radio and newspapers, esp. given the abysmal connectivity at the SA III site that shows no signs of improvement over 72 hours into the operations. That said, he also said that we need to look at new and innovative ways to get messages out and in particular mentioned Microsoft FM radio enabled wrist watches (that at presently are first generation, somewhat unreliable for essential communications and not designed for humanitarian aid) that in the future could evolve into devices that could really help first response mechanisms work cohesively and collaboratively.
Mark is no slouch when it comes to media and disasters – he has overseen actual operations personally and through Internews in Indonesia and Africa, and brings with him insights that may help an eventual SA IV work better with the media, and more importantly, work into the SA scenario the myriad of ways through which the media helps and impedes a relief effort.
An Ashoka, Rotary World Peace and TED Fellow, I have since 2002 used, studied and advocated Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to strengthen peace, human rights & democratic governance.
I founded in 2006 and till June 2020 edited the award-winning Groundviews, Sri Lanka's first civic media website. From 2002-2020 I was a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives. I pioneered both the use of social media for activism and online citizen journalism/civic media in Sri Lanka, including setting up South Asia's first Twitter and Facebook accounts for civic media, in 2007. Having started digital security training for human rights activists in 2010, I continue to advise civil society on digital hygiene, mass and personal surveillance, privacy and secure communications to date. I also curate a comprehensive digital archive of material linked to peace and conflict in Sri Lanka, since 2002.
I specialise in, advise and train on social media communications strategy, countering-violence extremism online, web-based activism, online advocacy and grounded, context-based, platform-specific social media research. My work experience over two-decades spans five continents.
Through the ICT4Peace Foundation and since 2006, I help strengthen information management during crises and work on countering violent extremism online. For over a decade, this included leading the Foundation's work on these lines with the United Nations and other multi-lateral organisations involved in peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and humanitarian affairs.
Since 2008, I have worked in South Asia, South East Asia, North Africa, Europe and the Balkans to capture, disseminate and archive inconvenient truths in austere, violent contexts.
I completed doctoral studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand, looking at the symbiotic relationship between offline unrest and online instigation of hate and harm in Sri Lanka and, in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre in 2019, facilitated by leading research based on New Zealand's first ever Data for Good grant by Twitter.
View all posts by Sanjana