Raising awareness among journalists for a better coordinated role during disasters to serve people

04/07/2016 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society in partnership with the Colombo Chamber of Commerce, the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, Durdans Hospital, The Ministry of Disaster Management, The Ministry of Mass Media and E3X Global organized a workshop for journalists in Colombo,  to raise awareness on the importance of their roles in disasters.  The main objective was to reiterate how relief organizations like the Red Cross, the Government and more so the public relies on the importance, accuracy and timely information during disasters.

Over 60 journalists from Sri Lanka’s print, electronic, web and social mediums covering all three languages took part in this workshop.

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The Minister of Special Projects Dr. Sarath Amunugama & The Minister of Local Government & Provincial Council Faizer Mustapha attended the event as chief guests. President of Sri Lanka Red Cross Jagath Abeysinghe, Chairman of the Colombo Chamber of Commerce Dr. Amila Kankanamge, the Director General of SLRCS Neville Nanayakkara and the Deputy Director General of SLRCS Sudath Madugalle were present at the event.

Addressing the gathering Minister Amunugama, while thanking journalists for their dedicated response during the last floods and landslide disaster, reiterate that while doing a proper job, it is also vital to ensure that ethics, standards and quality of the reporting should be upheld as well.

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Also addressing the gathering the President of SLRCS said that organization like the Red Cross will continue to support all endeavors that would ensure a better service delivery to most vulnerable people that face adversity during times of disasters. He reiterated the importance of a well coordinated mechanism among humanitarian organizations, the Government and the media to ensure that the end result would ensure saving more lives and serving more people.

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Dr. Amila Kankanamge the Chairman of the Colombo Chamber of Commerce while addressing the gathering stated the importance of this new partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross. He said that the focus of the organization thus far has been business oriented, however with the recent floods and landslides it was evident to them that they too need to do more and get involved in the betterment of the Sri Lankan society.

The workshop that began afterwards focused on the areas of the impact of disasters on communities, the responsibility of a journalist during a disaster and their coverage, focusing on more human interest stories and the usage of modern technology to reach further and to expand their coverage.

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One of the key objective of the workshop was also to create a working group comprising journalists working in all platforms. This working group from now on will work closely with Sri Lanka Red Cross during disasters in order to disseminate vital information to the public. They will also work closely with the Red Cross in identifying issues faced by journalists during disasters. The Red Cross here will act as a mediator between the journalists and the relevant authorities.

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