Head of Disaster Risk Reduction-Education office of the Japanese newspaper company, Kahoku Shimpo Publishing, Shinichi Takeda, said the media across the world, including Papua New Guinea, play a vital role in disaster risk.
The Kahoku Shimpo is a regional newspaper in Sendai in northeast Japan. Takeda was working as the deputy chief editor during the time of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the area on March 11, 2011.
Takeda explained that it’s vital for media organisations to report on what to do prior to a disaster and to raise awareness among the people.
Takeda was in the frontline, doing coverage of the quake and the aftermath.
He highlighted that it’s a great pain as a media person to see your readers lose their life in a disaster. He feels each of those deaths in a personal way.
“Even today, I still regret that I had to see my readers lose their lives because there wasn’t must awareness published on preparing for and preventing a tsunami.
“The newspaper didn’t do enough to enlighten and educate people so I don’t want such things to happen again.
“We could have saved lives if we were more into disaster prevention education and awareness for the people,” Takeda explained to Loop PNG and other media organisations from the Pacific and Caribbean.
He stressed that reporters can use their articles to protect people’s lives. And he notes that some readers told him that stories published by the newspaper before the March 11 tragedy did help them to protect themselves.
“One out of four people of our readers found out that our paper somehow helped them to evacuate during the tsunami and they were saved.
“We strongly feel a sense of relief that our article could save people’s lives because it concerns them.”
Besides providing hard news information, the media can proactively take the initiative for disaster prevention education with disaster prevention activities.
Takeda added that the media have a role to send encouraging messages to people at a time of despair so that people can once again raise their heads up and move forward.
“During a disaster, it’s very important to include positive messages, like aid goods arriving, instead of (only) focusing on the number of deaths and those missing.
“These are news that encourages people after a disaster,” Takeda explained.
One very important role of the media is to prevent people or community being isolated, especially at a time of disaster.
Takeda stressed that making a people or community feel included helps in the recovery and reconstruction after a disaster.
(Picture: The Kahoku Shimpo newsroom.)