As a broadcaster and broadcast trainer, who has been drawn into the sphere of emergency media only recently, I know there are many more people who know much more than me about it. Kristin’s blog puts her in a very special position to comment from the viewpoint of a practitioner and also a recent victim of disaster. I agree totally with her points about local information in the recovery stage, which is much less of a priority for many media than covering the disaster itself. There has been a lot of talk about the recovery aspect from the Australian community radio sector, who are the closest to the community and well placed to help in recovery. The most recent example is UGFM after the Victorian bushfires. I look forward to hearing more of Kristin’s story at the conference.
My own viewpoint comes from the background of a former broadcast manager and now an international trainer, and I hope I can make a contribution in helping media understand emergency services and vice versa.
I have found that understanding the pressures on both sides helps media and emergency services staff work better together. Finding common ground and realising that both media and emergency services both aim to help people and save lives, is a good starting point. Honestly understanding the pressures faced by media – such as deadlines and highly competitive editors, and by emergency services – such as the constraints of law and agency protocols, is another good place to start in achieving better cooperation through finding common ground.
In a project initiated by the Attorney General’s Department, I developed a training program where these things are discussed, with the aim of creating a better working relationship between media and emergency services. I have now delivered the program in a few different places and so far so good in achieving better understandings on both sides. The project is just one small part in the many steps being taken by everyone to make sure the media and emergency services work well together for the public good in times of emergency.
I am writing this blog from Afghanistan. Here is an example of extreme conditions where some of the principles we will talk about at the upcoming conference are desperately needed to help rebuild the country. I will tell you more about it at the conference.
– Steve, www.steveahern.com.au
Steve Ahern is an international broadcast training consultant, broadcaster, author and media commentator, and will deliver a paper at the EMPA conference on collaboration between emergency services and the media.