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Humanitarianism, Communications and Change

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Edited By Simon Cottle and Glenda Cooper

Humanitarianism, Communications and Change is the first book to explore humanitarianism in today’s rapidly changing media and communications environment. Based on the latest academic thinking alongside a range of professional, expert and insider views, the book brings together some of the most authoritative voices in the field today. It examines how the fast-changing nature of communications throws up new challenges but also new possibilities for humanitarian relief and intervention. It includes case studies deployed in recent humanitarian crises, and significant new communication developments including social media, crisis mapping, SMS alerts, big data and new hybrid communications. And against the backdrop of an increasingly globalized and threat-filled world, the book explores how media and communications, both old and new, are challenging traditional relations of communication power.
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Chapter Seventeen: New ­Approaches to ­Aggregation and Verification in ­Humanitarian ­Newsgathering and Coverage

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← 228 | 229 → CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

New ­Approaches to ­Aggregation and Verification in ­Humanitarian ­Newsgathering and Coverage

CLAIRE WARDLE1

Social media have changed the way charities, NGOs, and humanitarian organisations communicate. Successful organisations were always good at nurturing their own ‘audiences’, reaching their supporters and volunteers via newsletters and other direct forms of communication. They also had the opportunity to reach wider audiences via the traditional news media who might cover their work—if they were able to get their attention! However, with the advent of social media these types of organisations are now able to connect with a range of different audiences quickly, easily, and, significantly, more clearly.

YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook all allow organisations to post frequent updates, including pictures from the field, updated statistics, inspiring quotes, and full-blown policy discussions via blog posts. These platforms also permit hyper-­targeted messaging, from a fast-paced video on YouTube aimed at ‘millennials’2, to an Instagram ‘takeover’ by a ‘mummy blogger’ sent out to the field to witness for herself the work being done by an organisation, to a LinkedIn article aimed at potential donors, or to a blog post aimed at academics working on a specific issue. As a consequence of these opportunities now afforded to organisations, these platforms, in turn, have forced a much higher degree of transparency by organisations ← 229 | 230 → about their daily work, and the impact of that work on the communities they are attempting to help.

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