BBC wins big by betting on chat app to deliver Ebola tips

BBC wins huge by betting on chat app to deliver Ebola tips

The BBC won a prestigious Online News Association award for public service journalism Saturday for its use of the chat application WhatsApp to distribute information approximately Ebola in stricken areas during the 2014 outbreak.

The group was honored for its use of a new platform to distribute lifesaving information, such as how the disease was spread & where to obtain help, in English & French, in format that would reach readers wherever they were.

"It's a huge honor to bring home this award," said BBC digital editor Steve Herrmann upon accepting the prize.

"It is a bigger honor to be part of a life-saving service."

In developing the chat app service, the BBC had decided to use graphics, texts & audio clips to obtain their message across, avoiding such heavy files as video clips that would burn through a user's data.

The association moreover awarded its first honor named for freelance journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by the Islamic State in the first of their widely distributed videos showing the execution of Western hostages.

The award went to Cengiz Yar, a photographer who works in conflict zones, Syria in particular.

"The Syrian war & the struggle of the Syrian people is what James gave his life for," Yar said.

"This award is a reminder that we have an obligation to leave the world a better place than we found it. Being the messenger, being someone people trust to tell their story, is more than job, it is a calling."

Social news startup Reported.ly, which is associated with First Look Media, won an award for their breaking coverage of the shootings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The shootings took place just two days after the launch of Reported.ly, testing the small team from the very start.

"We didn't even know each other very well," said Andy Carvin of his staff of six, which is spread around the world.

"A challenge makes a team, & we're better for it."

In other categories, The Baltimore Sun won two awards for its coverage of the police killing of Freddie Gray & the riots that rocked the city after his death.

The Washington Post won the award for overall excellence in digital storytelling & Canada's The Globe & Mail received a prize for its coverage of the shooting on Parliament Hill.

The Online News Association is the world's largest membership organization for digital media.

Their awards, established in 2000, seek to honor the unique work of digital & online journalist who use new tools to tell timeless stories with text, graphics, video & pictures.

Source: “AFP”