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.
The full interview is available here.