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Humanitarianism, Communications and Change


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 Eighteen: Mobile Emergencies, Mobile Phones: The Hidden Revolution


← 238 | 239 → CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Mobile Emergencies, Mobile Phones

The Hidden Revolution


When local news journalist Erel Cabatbat arrived in Tacloban in the central Philippines, hours after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, he was expecting to report on one of the biggest disasters ever to hit his country for his company, GMA. Instead, he found himself running an ad hoc family reunification service. Erel, who, as a reporter, had a working phone, found himself surrounded by survivors desperate to get a messages to loved ones. ‘I have pages full of the numbers of people who begged me to text their families and let them know they were OK’, he says. In particular, he remembers one doctor, covered in mud, who had walked the five miles to the airport in the hope of finding someone who could contact his children. ‘I managed to send them text messages and posted on my Twitter account and they called me back and told me that they were coming to Tacloban to take him to safety.’ As the BBC also reported, other journalists returned from reporting trips with hundreds of scraps of paper, on which were scrawled the numbers of relatives.

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