By Irina Skaya
“Twitter saves lives,” – said Ann Curry, news anchor on NBC’s Today morning program.
In my last blog, I discussed how critical social media has been in gathering news information about the Haiti disaster, and how it has changed the way we learn and consume information. Today, the first day of Social Media Week, I attended a “Social Media and Haiti Disaster” panel discussion at The New York Times, made up of Ann Curry (@anncurry), Robert Mackey, NYTimes Reporter (@robertmackey), Erik Parker, Journalist (@theparkerreport), Andrew Rasiej, Political and Social Entrepreneur (@rasiej), and Jason Cone, Communications Director at Doctors Without Borders. As a follow up to my last blog, I’d like to discuss how microblogging has revolutionized the way journalists report stories during a catastrophe, and how Twitter has played a crucial role in the Haiti relief efforts, and influenced others to aid this poverty-stricken country during the recession in our own country.
- Twitter is the best way to update information on-the-go when electricity is limited and the Internet connection is weak – Contrary to his counterparts, Erik Parker used Twitter to inform the rest of the world of the devastation in Haiti. Other reporters on the ground were filing stories on their laptops, only to later to find out that the Internet was down. Moreover, when Erik’s professional camera ran out of battery, he used his iPhone to record video footage of the immediate consequences following the 7.0 earthquake.
- Twitter teaches people the power of information – Microbloggers are empowered to share information, but sometimes they can cross the line by publishing graphic images of the devastation that editors of professional publications would never chose to run.
- In the rise of online citizen journalism, verification of shared information is more important than ever – Journalists used geo-targeting Twitter tools to verify the people who said were in Haiti were really there.
- “It’s a no brainer that Twitter is a way to help people and positively influence others” – said Ann Curry. Thousands of people used Twitter to communicate information about the disaster and help Haiti in form of tweeting about the much-needed medical supplies, raising money, and finding the missing loved ones.
- Social media is a great way to keep the Haitian people’s story alive even after the media coverage dies down.
For full coverage of the event, search hashtag #smwnythaiti.