Social Media, Beneficiary Communications & Humanitarian Reporting

13-14 October, 2011, Manila

Thin Lei Win, Correspondent, Reuters AlertNet Thomson Reuters Foundation

Social Media, Beneficiary Communications & Humanitarian Reporting
• Social media: a way of interacting between organisations, communities and individuals using mobile, web-based technologies • Beneficiary communications: engaging with affected communities (beneficiaries) through information, based on the belief that information is a vital form of aid in itself • “People need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter.... Information can save lives.” • Humanitarian reporting: area of journalism specialising on humanitarian issues, whether or not it is at a time of disaster or conflict • Three events that occurred last year as examples: Haiti Quake, Bangkok Protests and Myanmar Elections

HAITI QUAKE - JANUARY 2010 EMERGENCY INFORMATION SERVICE
Beneficiary communications in an emergency, post-disaster setting Social media used for promoting the service, not for reporting

Haiti Quake
• Biggest tremor in 200 years
- 7.0 magnitude, more than 316,000 killed, 1.5 million homeless
- Damages and losses between $8 and $14 billion

- Still rubble-strewn a year later
- TRF set up EIS within days of the quake & sent messages in Creole using 4636 short code; a collaborative effort between many players incl. Ushahidi - Provided messages ranging from how to register missing loved ones with ICRC to public health advice to food & petrol prices

Haiti Quake - the messages we were getting

BANGKOK PROTESTS - MAY 2010 LIVE BLOGGING
Beneficiary communications in time of civil conflict Social media used for reporting & monitoring news, interaction, promotion

Bangkok Protests
• In two months of fighting:- 91 killed, at least 1,800 wounded, including two journalists - Parts of centre of Bangkok locked down - A difficult time for journalists both local and foreign, as media companies came under attack from both sides

Bangkok Protests
• Live blog:- http://live.reuters.com/Event/Ban gkok_protests?Page=0

- Started on May 15 & covered Reuters & other new organisations’ outputs
- Relied on Twitter, Facebook, text messages & eyewitness accounts from Reuters reporters - Twitter especially came into its own during this time as one of the few forums for real-time, onthe-ground updates and a place where everyone to speak their minds

MYANMAR ELECTIONS - NOVEMBER 2010 REMOTE LIVE BLOGGING
Humanitarian reporting of a momentous event, followed by conflict Social media used for reporting & monitoring news, interaction, promotion

Myanmar Elections
• First elections held in more than 20 years
- November 7, 2010 - Divided the opposition into two groups: those for and against the elections, igniting heated debate and civil society action to canvass votes in a way that had not been seen before - Aung San Suu Kyi still under house arrest and NLD did not participate in the elections

Myanmar Elections
• Live blog:- http://live.reuters.com/Event/My anmar_elections?Page=0
- Started on November 6, 2010 - Relied on Twitter, Facebook, Myanmar Television (MRTV), exiled media outlet websites and eyewitness accounts from Reuters reporters - A very difficult event to cover remotely but could not be done any other way

Then fighting started the next day - Nov 8 - near the border town of Myawaddy.

Myanmar Elections
• Reporting moved from elections to fighting, which pushed tens of thousands of people to cross the border into Thailand. • Fighting was between a rebel faction of a ceasefire group and the army. • Limitation - when vulnerable people have little or no access to communications, official news from country of origin is unreliable and host government imposes restrictions on their movement and access by third parties, they are not plugged in to get information that could help them.

Social Media, Beneficiary Communications & Humanitarian Reporting
13-14 October, 2011, Manila

Thin Lei Win, Correspondent, Thomson Reuters Foundation

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