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

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LOS ANGELES: The BBC won a prestigious Online News Association award for public service journalism on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) for its use of the chat application WhatsApp to distribute information about 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 and where to get help, in English and French, in format that would reach readers wherever they were. “It’s a big 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 and audio clips to get their message across, avoiding such heavy files as video clips that would burn through a user’s data. The association also 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.

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