Nelly Bassily | August 4, 2008
Media organizations take on a heavy responsibility when they report threats such as the H5N1 bird flu. It is important to keep people informed of the risk, but it is also important to keep the situation in perspective, so that the audience doesn’t panic. When a threat like bird flu persists for many years, effective communication becomes a greater challenge. If the audience has not experienced the threat first hand, they may dismiss it over time. Accurate reporting remains crucial and creative communication methods may be needed to keep the audience engaged and informed about what they can do to reduce their risk.
The Communication Initiative Network highlights many ways that communication groups around the world are working to raise awareness of avian flu and promote prevention. For example, in Indonesia, the country which has experienced the highest human death toll from bird flu (110 deaths), a cultural group travels from village to village, spreading awareness through traditional songs, dances, and drumming. In Latin America, a radio series called “Mas vale prevenir…” (”An ounce of prevention…”), tells the story of a long-time poultry farmer who decides to implement inexpensive biosafety measures. To learn more about what other media organizations are doing, visit: http://www.comminit.com/en/avianinfluenza.html.