RT @mediamentor: RT @PBSMediaShift: NGOs Must Harness Social Media Beyond
Disaster Relief | PBS
[excerpt - see URL for embedded links]
When the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Doctors
Without Borders had 1,300 followers on Twitter. Now, it boasts over
13,000. The Red Cross follower count shot up by just over 40,000 people in
the weeks following the quake. If technology wasn't already transforming
the public role of the non-governmental organization, it has now brought
many to a point of no return.
Bigger Followings Mean Bigger Responsibility
As Jason Cone, the communications director for Doctors Without Borders,
noted during New York's recent Social Media Week, the earthquake was a
"game changer in the way [his organization] thinks about social networks
and [their] application.
"Social media might actually be a means for us to mobilize and overcome
some of the real serious obstacles we had been facing," he said.
Cone was getting at an idea that thinkers in the field had been suggesting
before the quake struck: For civil society to evolve alongside technology,
organizations must envision ways to better harness new media at all times
-- not just when disaster strikes.
"How long will it be before international development and humanitarian
NGOs see their supporter base eroded by digital native organizations such
as Kiva and Avaaz?" asked Lokman Tsui at the Nieman Journalism Lab.
Non-governmental organizations are taking on new roles as large-scale
transmitters of information. This also means that they have a greater
responsibility to share news with each other, not only with the population
at large. The easier it becomes to disseminate information, the more
pressing the call to formally share resources across organizational lines
in the name of cooperation.
UNICEF USA uses Flickr to share photos from their Haiti disaster relief
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