By Jessica Dudoff
The aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti was first shown to the world through tools like Twitter, YouTube, and facebook and passed on further by TV networks around the globe.Radio was crucial to coordinating relief efforts when local landlines were decimated.This initial awareness coverage and medium for communication allowed for one of the world’s most dramatic and worldwide natural disaster relief efforts in world history!
Soon after the heart-wrenching coverage of Haiti’s situation, donations started flowing in from all directions.In addition, nearly every able country in the world has sent either financial or physical aid, in the form of relief workers, supplies, and many forms of transportation vehicles, to the devastated country that was already the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.An unprecedented amount and percentage of the aid money has come via txting donations to funds such as the Red Cross and the Yele Haiti Foundation created by Haitian native and celebrity WyclefJean.
Celebrity and corporate involvement has flourished through, and because of the media awareness.For example:
·The telethon on Jan. 22nd, featuring hosts such as George Clooney and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
·Wyclef Jean has raised over $2 million through $5 texts alone.
·Larry King Live’s telethon raised almost $9 million.
·Google has pledged $1 million to the cause
·Microsoft has donated $1.25 million and offered free technical support for relief groups in Haiti.
·General Electric has pledged $2.5 million and will match any donation by it’s employees
US companies have pledged more the $48 million to Haiti relief funds.While it is very difficult to estimate the global contribution philanthropists are sure that much more money needs to be raised.Timothy Ogden, editor in chief of online journal Philanthropy Action, estimates that initial relief efforts will cost approximately $3 billion alone, let alone the rebuilding phase.
Continued media coverage is essential to the success of Haiti’s continued relief and rebuild.While it has long been assumed that media coverage increases monetary donations, professors at the University of Michigan finally did a case study on this correlation after the 2004 tsunami.They studied U.S. citizens and published their findings December 2006; here are some of the highlights.
·One minute of nightly news coverage translates to 13.2% increase in the daily donations
·One 700 word article in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal results in an 18.2% increase
This reflects the profound effect of just some of the media coverage upon relief donations towards a natural disaster on foreign soil – a case very similar to Haiti’s current situation.
As of January 25th donations to the American Red Cross had decreased by over 50%.While fluctuations are typical in charitable donations, 50% is an alarming rate just weeks after the incident.Continued media coverage is crucial, but ultimately the media covers what will sell ratings.It is up to us, the public, to remain interested and concerned with the condition and reconstruction of Haiti.