Expert discusses social media as a tool to calm fear during crises

suzanne basalla

Suzanne Basalla, COO of the US-Japan Council, visited the communication studies department today to discuss her experience during the Fukushima Crisis in Japan and how social media can be utilized as an effective tool to calm fear during a crisis.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake formed an immense tsunami that crashed into the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, causing three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors to melt down. The result: the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl, and a very panicked Japanese population. As a way to calm these trepidations, the US Embassy in Tokyo used social media as a tool to raise awareness and coordinate relief to those in need.

Basalla was the US Ambassador’s chief advisor at this time. During her talk with the communication department, she discussed the lessons she obtained from the disaster at Fukushima and how this knowledge can be used to help stop devastating contagion from Ebola.

Currently, Basalla is the COO of the US-Japan council, as she launched the initiative, TOMODACHI, one of the most effective public diplomacy partnerships currently being used to connect Japan and the United States, during the months after the destruction at Fukushima.

Basalla also met with journalism students and faulty for a luncheon at noon to speak about the importance of communication in foreign policy. From 2-4p.m, in the Iwasaki Library, Basalla will be giving a workshop on how the success of calming fears in the wake of the Fukushima disaster can be used concerning Ebola in the United States.

By Stephany Christie

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