UNISDR launches a new media handbook to help journalists report disasters through a different lens


Disasters are not natural; hazards are, says a new UNISDR media book launched at the Third Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction last week by Tim Sebastian of BBC Hard Talk.

“Around twenty years ago I covered an earthquake in El Salvador and I wish I had had this book with me at the time. Nobody told me I had to go beyond the broken houses and the shattered lives and ask the question: why did this happen and how it could have been prevented?” said Tim Sebastian at the launch, also attended by Kristalina Georgieva, European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation and Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction from UNISDR.

The 190-page manual, “Disaster through a Different Lens,” describes how climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and rapid urbanization contribute to expose more people to disasters, and discusses what media can do to convince more national and local governments to invest more in disaster risk reduction policies.

"When disasters strike, in addition to human interest stories there are questions to be asked about whether or not the international response was quick enough or sufficient and whether or not more could have been done to prevent or to limit the damage. These are exactly the kind of reflections that media should stimulate to generate public and political support for providing international assistance and make sure that policy makers and individuals take all necessary measures to reduce risks to a minimum" said Commissioner Georgieva, whose organization is financially supporting the book.

“The media has a powerful role to play, as guardian and sentinel, as conscience and democratic watchdog. But sadly, although coverage of disaster is in proportion to its shocking nature, the mass media rarely goes beyond the immediate reportage of loss and suffering, and examines the issues that contributed to the catastrophe,” says Special Representative Wahlström. “The book will help media focus on the causes of disasters and not just on the aftermath of disasters.”

“This 190-page manual carries the combined wisdom and experience of hundreds of disaster experts, distilled by a journalist and a UNISDR communication officer with more than half a century of reporting experience between them. It is designed for media professionals – but any concerned voter could also consult it,” says Tim Radford, co-writer of the book.

The book will be translated into French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
  • Where We Work Our regional office is in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Where We Work Our regional office is in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Where We Work Our regional office is in Panama City, Panama.
  • Where We Work Our regional office is in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Where We Work Our regional office is in Nairobi, Kenya.

Where We Work


See our photos on Flickr Watch our videos on YouTube Follow our Instagram Subscribe to our RSS feed