FOR THE WEEK OF JAN. 18, 2010
Digital outreach and social media help Haiti earthquake survivors
This foreign story has local impact. Look for reports about residents in your area or state who are Haitian, have family members there or have done charitable work on the island.
Find information about how to donate to relief efforts. Is there coverage of local appeals for assistance?
Some quake images and reports may seem gruesome. Discuss the role of newspapers in presenting balanced, accurate disaster coverage for a diverse readership. Are editors acting with sensitivity, particularly in choosing Page 1 photos?
Ordinary Americans are participating in the global response to help the Caribbean island of Haiti, devastated by one of the worst natural disasters ever experienced in the Western Hemisphere. A large earthquake last week left the capital city, Port-au-Prince, in ruins and caused thousands of casualties. The United States, dozens of other countries and major charities rushed to the rescue with troops, medical relief, shelters, food, water and other critical supplies.
Public appeals for contributions are tailored to the digital age, as shown by repeated presidential references to a list of Haitian relief groups at www.whitehouse.gov. The State Department helped the American Red Cross set up a mobile phone campaign that has raised more than $8 million dollars. Donors can give $10 at a time by texting the word HAITI to 90999.
Social media also delivered live news from Haiti and served again as the first place where millions react to a large-scale catastrophe. Before journalists reached the island, CNN shared tweets, YouTube videos and photos posted on Facebook by survivors with wireless Internet access. The Associated Press set up a Facebook page and Twitter feed as part of its coverage.
U.S. president says: "With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need."
Twitter user says: "There's just something right about seeing Red Cross as a top trending topic during a time of need and devastation." -- Sarah Evans, New York public relations executive
Editor says: "By using Facebook and Twitter accounts to interact with our audience and learn more about what they want to know, AP will strengthen its already dynamic relationship with its member news organizations, other customers and news consumers throughout the world." -- Kathleen Carroll, Associated Press executive editor
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