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Disaster training for staff essential, broadcasters told

Broadcasters should train their staff constantly on how to operate during disasters, a top Japanese journalist told a media summit in Dhaka today.

Akinori Hashimoto, an Executive Controller at public broadcaster NHK, told the 3rd ABU Media Summit on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction that regular training was essential to ensure effective disaster coverage.

Speaking from Tokyo via a live video link, he said it was also important for broadcasters to build close cooperation with disaster organisations to provide information as quickly as possible to their audiences.

Broadcasters should use all available platforms, including television, radio and social media, for their disaster risk reduction coverage, Mr Hashimoto said.

“NHK’s most important function as a public service broadcaster is to provide information that saves lives.”

He said NHK had learned lessons from its coverage of the 2011 earthquake and disaster, which claimed 18,000 lives, and had made changes to its disaster coverage.

Announcers now spoke in a more urgent and forceful tone when disaster struck to ensure the message got across to viewers. And graphics now had larger fonts and simpler words.

NHK had also launched a disaster mitigation app for smartphones, providing warnings, evacuation notices and other information, to complement its other coverage.

Mr Hashimoto said NHK’s disaster coverage resources included 15 helicopters at 12 airports and 700 remote-controlled cameras across Japan.

Reporting by Alan Williams