Yogyakarta journalists
ready for natural disasters

About 50 print and broadcast journalists are attending a two day workshop in Yogyakarta on safe media coverage during natural disasters, it will run until Sunday.

The workshop, which is held at the Yayasan Konservasi Alam office, aims to equip journalists with the skills to cover natural disasters.

“Journalists will be provided with the relevant search and rescue skills that they may need during a natural disaster. We hope to reduce the chance of accidents journalists may suffer when covering news in these situations,” head of the Indonesian Photojournalist Association (PFI) Yogyakarta, W S Pamungkas, said on the sidelines of the workshop jointly held by the Search and Rescue team (SAR) and the Yogyakarta Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).

Pamungkas said such training was crucial because Yogyakarta was a disaster-prone area and it seemed natural disasters were becoming more frequent in Yogyakarta. Incidents such as earthquakes, the Merapi volcano eruptions and cold lava floods affected the lives of people in the province.

“News regarding natural disasters is becoming more and more common and in this regard, it is important for us to understand personal safety and protection during the coverage. No news should be made at the expense of someone’s life. This is a journalism principle that we should adhere to,” said Pamungkas.

PFI Yogyakarta spokesperson, M. Syaifullah, said Yogyakarta was a disaster indicator for other cities due to the frequency of natural disasters in the area. He cited the earthquake in 2006 that left more than 5,000 people dead, followed by other disasters such as Merapi’s volcanic eruptions, storms and landslides.

“The Merapi volcano’s cold lava floods are likely to continue as there still remains 70 million cubic meters of cold lava in the mountain after the 2010 eruption. We will face cold lava floods in the next few years,” said Syaifullah, who is also a journalist from Tempi daily newspaper in Yogyakarta, adding that few organizations provided their journalists with the skills necessary for them to cover the incidents. (ebf)

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