Best Online Resources for Following Haiti News, Taking Action

    by Mark Glaser
    January 14, 2010
    Photo by Marco Dormino of The United Nations, used via Creative Commons license through Flickr.

    In the face of devastating news happening far away, there is comfort in making a connection. And those connections often are made online among strangers who are sharing video, photos, stories or tweets about the devastation around them. Such is the case in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a city that was devastated by an earthquake last Tuesday, with tens of thousands feared dead.

    While Twitter has had a growing role as a first-responder medium with breaking news, that role has grown this week into a major booster for giving. When the Red Cross said people could donate $10 by texting the word “Haiti” to 90999, those instructions were passed along virally via Twitter, helping raise more than $5 million for relief efforts. The Yele Haiti Foundation also used text messaging to raise more than $1 million; you can donate $5 by texting the word “Yele” to 501501. A search on Google’s real-time feed from Twitter for “90999” brings up more than 48,000 results, meaning it’s been mentioned in that many tweets.

    The spirit of giving became infectious online. The cell carriers said they wouldn’t be taking their customary cuts of those charges, nor would they charge users for sending the text messages. Even the credit card companies got into the act, waiving their fees for donations to Haiti. Plus, I noticed at one point today that the home pages of the major U.S. cable networks had removed their most lucrative ad slots and replaced them with Haiti relief pitches. (Commercial ads came back later tonight.)


    The only downside to all this kindness was the confusion brought by so many free offers. According to AdAge, UPS offered “in-kind services to Haiti,” which somehow became interpreted to mean that people could send free packages to Haiti if they were less than $50 in cost. When American Airlines offered free miles for donations to the Red Cross, people misinterpreted that to mean free flights. “It was misinformation that got picked up, and we got information back out on Twitter saying that it wasn’t the case,” an American spokeswoman told AdAge.

    With so many people missing in Haiti and communication systems down, social media has in some cases played the surprising role of life-saver. The CBC reported that a Montreal woman got a Facebook message from someone in Haiti saying that their neighbor was trapped in rubble next door. The Montreal woman contacted the Red Cross and the neighbor was eventually saved. These are the stories that give us hope, even when we’re thousands of miles removed from the disaster zone.

    Online Resources

    Here’s a list of online resources to follow the news, tweets, find missing people, see satellite imagery, and take action to help out in Haiti.


    Special sites and pages

    Wikipedia page on 2010 Haiti Earthquake

    Miami Herald’s Disaster in Haiti

    Ushahidi’s 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

    Global Voices Online Haiti Earthquake

    Huffington Post’s Haiti Earthquake

    CNN’s Voices from Haiti reports on the ground

    Twitter feeds

    Red Cross




    Wyclef Jean








    Twitter lists and searches

    NY Times haiti-earthquake

    LA Times haiti-quake

    FoxNews haiti-earthquake

    CNNbrk haiti

    MSNBC’s BreakingNews haiti-quake

    NPR’s haiti-earthquake

    Google real-time search results for #haiti

    Facebook pages

    Earthquake Haiti

    Haiti Earthquake Relief

    Support the Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti

    Photo Sets

    Boston.com’s The Big Picture Haiti 48 hours later

    Google Maps with satellite image overlay

    Google Earth Library’s links to satellite images

    BBC’s Haiti after the earthquake (from GeoEye)

    International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Society Flickr set (not Creative Commons; must get permission to use)

    i-d8a053e27e4c06a0ee83b701c9eb4d93-boy gets treatment.jpg

    Boy receives treatment in Haiti; photo by Logan Abassi, UN

    UN Development Program Flickr set (under Creative Commons)

    Disasters Emergency Committee Flickr set (all rights reserved, mainly from Reuters)

    NPR’s Photo Gallery

    Hyberabad India’s Haiti Earthquake Image Gallery (optimized for iPod Touch and iPhones, as per Eric Rumsey in comments)


    YouTube’s CitizenTube channel

    YouTube videos geo-tagged in Haiti

    iReport videos on Haiti earthquake

    Take action

    Google crisis response page with various ways to donate

    CNN Impact

    FoxNews How to Help

    PBS Newshour’s Haiti Relief Effort

    Huffington Post’s How You Can Help

    NPR’s How to Help

    Adam Sherk rounds up news sites’ help pages

    Find people

    Miami Herald’s Haiti Connect

    Red Cross FamilyLinks for Haiti

    NY Times’ The Missing in Haiti photo gallery

    CBC Help people find loved ones

    Haiti Missing Persons Bulletin Board

    Person Finder – Haiti Earthquake (as per Erik from Ushahidi)


    This list will be updated over the coming weeks, so please add in your favorite online resources in the comments below.

    Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

    Tagged: #haiti charity earthquake resources texting twitter

    11 responses to “Best Online Resources for Following Haiti News, Taking Action”

    1. Adam Sherk says:

      Great list Mark. I can add to your take action section with this list of pages on major news sites that provide links to aid organizations. With donation fraud unfortunately increasing news sites are playing an import role in directing people to legitimate groups.

    2. Great resource, Adam, and great point about scams out there. I’ve added your blog post to that section. Cheers!

    3. sara says:

      CraftHope has set up an Etsy shop where 100% of sales goes to Doctors Without Borders. Handcrafted items from all types of artists.

    4. Good list. Thanks. Under “Photo Sets,” the only one that looks good on an iPod Touch is Boston.com. See here for more mobile-friendly Haiti quake pictures.

    5. Erik says:

      It would be good if the groups handling “missing persons” (or “find people) would coordinate into one standard format and even one site. Like this one:

    6. Thanks Eric & Erik for the info. I’ve updated the list of resources with the Hyberabad News pictures and the people finder. Appreciate your help and feedback!

    7. Greetings Mark: I’d recommend the daily Haiti coverage – multiple updates each day – in The Christian Science Monitor. Reporter and photographer there now: http://www.csmonitor.com/

      Also will have a Haiti Earthquake Diary by a correspondent who has covered Haiti for years, it will launch today.


    8. The Crisis Commons/Camp page is a fantastic resource for routing information to the appropriate parties: http://crisiscommons.org/

      This group organizes those with skills to perform vital tasks in support of relief efforts.

    9. jim says:

      I think its a mess in haiti but find it disturbing to see all the healthy adults run to florida! I can see evacuating the childeren and injured to a SAFE HAVEN but really when it happens here and it will! we americans will band together untill the last bodies burried I would feel like a coward if I left my fellow countrymen to fin for them self!

    10. meganshuang says:

      yeah… internet is the best medium in spreading news.. hope you will help me to spread this video.. asking for donation…
      please contribute to the relief effort in Haiti

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