Dispatches from Disaster Zones
To the Red Cross today for the conference Dispatches from Disaster Zones which brought aid agencies and media together to debate how to improve coverage of disasters including new research from CARMA International (blogged here by AlertNet http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/20316/2006/11/13-113825-1.htm) as well as launching the Red Cross's Forgotten Disasters Report
Like Megan Rowling I did not find anything sensationally new in the CARMA report, although Tom Vesey's suggestion that one of the solutions would be to embed journalists with aid units rather like happens with the military went down very badly with the journalists present (including Michael Buerk, Christina Lamb of the Sunday Times and Anton Antonowicz of the Daily Mirror) - although one could argue that simply by travelling with aid agencies it is difficult to present completely objective reporting - particularly as the aid agencies often pay for such trips (these are usually follow-up trips however, not ones that take place during disasters). There was much more support for the ida there should be far more scrutiny of politicians after conflict on delivery of aid.
CARMA's conclusion that the coverage focused on the political rather than the humanitarian also sparked a fairly forthright debate on whether the humanitarian disaster was a political one - and how outspoken aid agencies could/should be when to be so would get them thrown out of places like Zimbabwe.
Buerk suggested that aid agencies might be debating with the wrong people anyway given newspaper and TV journalists were present. He said that 40% of under 45s do not regularly watch TV news and Google is now the second most trusted news source in the country - we should all be thinking about new media instead...
EDIT: Further update from AlertNet - http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/20316/2006/11/14-173336-1.htm