20.06.2005 -

Stronger Media Coverage of Tsunami Aftermath Recommended

People around the world followed through the different media the daily developments of the tsunami tragedy and stories of those directly affected. Slowly, however, the stories declined, overshadowed by other more compelling news of the day. UNESCO calls on the media to continue investigative reporting on the issue.

For almost a month after this unfortunate event, interest remained peaked as more images of the story became available, more angles on the story were investigated, and the death toll rose unabated.

But one is yet to be informed on recent developments follow-up to the tsunami particularly in areas such as: transparency in funding operations; reconstruction of livelihoods of those affected and needs of particular groups such as women, children and other disadvantaged groups.

The question remains whether the media can indeed act as a watchdog in reporting these events and assist in ensuring accountability on the parts of the government and social organizations in this respect...

Media Roundtables bringing together government, civil society, tsuna victims and the media held by AMIC-India with the support of UNESCO and FES in Hyderabad (March 2005) and in Kerala (May 2005) reviewed an analysis of media coverage since the tsunami and called on the media to do more investigative reporting probing the needs and conditions of ordinary people and communities (from agricultural workers to fish and boat labourers, salt pan and other common service providers), whose stories remain untold, in addition to the fishermen.

In preparation for an Early Warning System in the country increased networking was foreseen among the various media organizations, meteorological department, data providers through satellites and government bodies active in that area. The introduction of nodal agencies was also suggested to monitor the propagation of news in remote areas.

Participants also proposed that an information cell should be set up on disaster management, or efforts be made to strengthen such existing initiatives, so that relevant data, and relief and rehabilitation models may be readily available.

A third and final media encounter is foreseen to be held in Chennai next September as a truly introspective session for the media only, out of which concrete proposals and actions are expected to emerge largely relating to areas such as capacity building of journalists and media professionals, production and usage of appropriate information tools and other preparedness interventions.

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