Media has crucial role in disaster risk reduction: Director Info

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STATE TIMES NEWS

SRINAGAR: Webinar on “Media for Disaster Risk Reduction” was jointly organised on Wednesday by National Institute of Disaster Management and Institution of Engineers (India) J&K State Centre, Srinagar, today, in collaboration with J&K Information and Public Relations Department, Kashmir Editors Guild, Kashmir Press Club and J&K State Emergency Operation Centre, Srinagar.
The webinar was inaugurated by Dr. Syed Sehrish Asgar, Director Information and Public Relations Department.
Speaking on the occasion Dr Sehrish said media is the most effective link between the Public and the Administration, and Information Department is the link between Government and Media.
She said that coordination mechanism with media needs to be further strengthened, in order to ensure that media has timely access to disaster related data, otherwise it can lead to publishing of unverified and speculative reports.
She implored the concerned officers that they should share relevant information about each incident promptly, otherwise reporters have to rely on information which may not be accurate.
She said that the Information Department has always been forthcoming to ensure that media is provided timely updates and mentioned about COVID-19 bulletin.
She appreciated that the media has brought about a positive change in the mindset of the general public from post?disaster relief, towards pre?disaster and mitigation initiatives and provided access to informative and specialised training programmes to enhance coping capacities.
She said that communication has to be ensured not only with the public broadcasters but also with the private media channels.
She said that print, electronic and social media add value and credence when they carry the public awareness messages that too along with entertainment and public is more receptive towards the messages.
She spoke about the tele-classes and covid awareness programme, Sukoon, started by the Information department. She urged the media to project stories of positivity and hope.
Speaking on the occasion, Er. Aamir Ali, Chairman IEI JKSC and Nodal Officer SEOC said that media plays a very important role in every stage of disaster i.e. Pre, During and Post-Disaster. He said that the media has created tremendous public awareness and disseminated early warnings, especially for floods, windstorms, avalanche and adverse weather warnings.
Media has not only made the public aware of the hazards and risks that they are vulnerable to, but has also enhanced their capacities to deal with any disaster situation so that they act promptly on early warnings. He appreciated that the media has brought about a positive change in the mindset of the general public from post?disaster relief, towards pre?disaster and mitigation initiatives and provided access to informative and specialised training programmes to enhance coping capacities.
He said that there are numerous instances when early warning information provided by print and electronic media has helped save precious lives and there are a few examples where either the warnings were not cararied byazz the media or were ignored by the public, which resulted in heavy losses.
He appreciated Radio Kashmir Srinagar for playing a vital role in connecting people, who had got separated from each other, during the floods of 2014, when there was no other means of communication.
He said that the media has on many occasions helped increase the visibility of a disaster situation, which has helped trigger National and sometimes even International support in terms of aid and donations for response, as was the case during the Earthquake of 2005.
He appreciated that print and electronic media have the most pivotal role, but said that social media too has emerged as a new information sharing platform which has potential to create an impact on the society and suppress a panic situation and rumors.
He urged that journalism ethics should be strictly followed, especially during disaster reporting, as sometimes, in the desire for TRPs and sensationalizing, basic ethics of journalism are overlooked and in the event of any disaster, the survivors and the grief stricken people deserve privacy and media is expected to give humanity precedence, over professional urgency.
He suggested that since media personnel are amongst the first responders in any disaster or emergency situation, therefore there is a dire need to train them in disaster response and basic life-saving skills, for which the training will start soon. He urged that coordination mechanisms of Disaster Management Authorities with the print, electronic and even social media should be strengthened, in order to ensure that media has timely access to disaster related data, otherwise it can lead to publishing of unverified and speculative reports.
He hoped that the deliberations and experience sharing by the panelists, would open up a new chapter of ensuring effective coordination mechanism, and would also pave way to set-up a Disaster Risk Reduction Platform at State, Divisional and District Level, which would not only have experts and professions as Members, but should necessarily include representatives from the media fraternity.

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