Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

Backpack reporting of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Volume 24, Issue 1

July, 2018

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Zafra, N. (2018). Backpack reporting of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 24(1), 102-122.
Implications of convergent technologies on disaster journalism
Author(s): Norman Zafra
Publication date: 
July, 2018

This article offers an analysis of digital technologies’ implications on disaster reporting using the perspective of a journalism-documentary practitioner. The study uses Typhoon Haiyan disaster as a case study and is based on an ethnographic analysis of the author’s backpack news production in post-disaster regions in the Philippines. It supports the notion that media convergence adds valuable new elements to storytelling and presentation of news but it only refines and not replaces traditional newsgathering methodologies. Drawing on the theories of emotional discourses in disaster reporting (Pantti, Wahl-Jorgensen & Cottle, 2012), media convergence and technological determinism, this article argues that journalists practising the backpack-style are confronted with more technical issues and even higher stress-level working in disaster zones, but being solo provides more opportunities to practise humanistic storytelling. Backpack journalists immersing in disaster zones can collect more personal narratives from survivors of a disaster who feel less intimidated by their use of informal equipment.