Broadcasting heavyweights from across the world descended on Brisbane to discuss the role of media in times of natural disaster.

Anna Fleetwood reports.


They came from Africa, North America and Asia to a city which knows the impact of natural disasters only too well.

Opening the 29th Commonwealth Broadcasting Association conference, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott says the last year or so has been a steep learning curve.

Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director: “There have been some extraordinary examples in recent times – we learn from what our New Zealand colleagues did during the earthquake. All around the world there are challenges that broadcasters are facing.”

Cultural anthropologist Dr Genevieve Bell says the rapidly changing media terrain complicates the task for broadcasters.

Dr Genevieve Bell, Intel: “You’re going to have to invest not only in the technologies of now but also in the technologies that are coming so it means making sure that you keep connections with the technologies that are well established but also invest in innovating new platforms and thinking about how to creatively take advatage of all the new stuff that’s coming.”

The conference is looking at ways media organisations can better provide important emergency information.

VOX 1: “The public broadcaster plays an absolutely essential role.”

VOX 2: “Hearing what some of the people from around the world are going to say about how they cope with disasters and with emergencies – we’ve had a few ourselves – so it would be nice to compare and contrast.”

The choice of venue is significant. Brisbane’s 2011 floods kicked off a year of 302 natural disasters claiming the lives of almost 30,000 people and affecting 205-million worldwide.

The conference concludes on Wednesday.

Anna Fleetwood, QUT News.