Opinion

Felix Salmon

Don’t donate money to Japan

By Felix Salmon
March 14, 2011

Individuals are doing it, banks are doing it — faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other.

Please don’t.

We went through this after the Haiti earthquake, and all of the arguments which applied there apply to Japan as well. Earmarking funds is a really good way of hobbling relief organizations and ensuring that they have to leave large piles of money unspent in one place while facing urgent needs in other places. And as Matthew Bishop and Michael Green said last year, we are all better at responding to human suffering caused by dramatic, telegenic emergencies than to the much greater loss of life from ongoing hunger, disease and conflict. That often results in a mess of uncoordinated NGOs parachuting in to emergency areas with lots of good intentions, where a strategic official sector response would be much more effective. Meanwhile, the smaller and less visible emergencies where NGOs can do the most good are left unfunded.

In the specific case of Japan, there’s all the more reason not to donate money. Japan is a wealthy country which is responding to the disaster, among other things, by printing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new money. Money is not the bottleneck here: if money is needed, Japan can raise it. On top of that, it’s still extremely unclear how or where organizations like globalgiving intend on spending the money that they’re currently raising for Japan — so far we’re just told that the money “will help survivors and victims get necessary services,” which is basically code for “we have no idea what we’re going to do with the money, but we’ll probably think of something.”

Globalgiving, it’s worth pointing out, was created to support “projects in the developing world,” where lack of money is much more of a problem than it is in Japan. I’m not at all convinced that the globalgiving model can or should be applied directly to Japan, without much if any thought about whether it’s the best way to address the issues there.

That said, it’s entirely possible that organizations like the Red Cross or Save the Children will find themselves with important and useful roles to play in Japan. It’s also certain that they have important and useful roles to play elsewhere. So do give money to them — and give generously! And give money to other NGOs, too, like Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which don’t jump on natural disasters and use them as opportunistic marketing devices. Just make sure it’s unrestricted. The official MSF position is exactly right:

The ability of MSF teams to provide rapid and targeted medical care to those most in need in more than 60 countries around the world – whether in the media spotlight or not – depends on the generous general contributions of our donors worldwide. For this reason, MSF does not issue appeals for support for specific emergencies and this is why we do not include an area to specify a donation purpose on our on-line donation form. MSF would not have been able to act so swiftly in response to the emergency in Haiti, as an example, if not for the ongoing general support from our donors. So we always ask our supporters to consider making an unrestricted contribution.

I’ve just donated $400 in unrestricted funds to MSF. Some of it might go to Japan; all of it will go to areas where it’s sorely needed. I’d urge you to do the same, rather than try to target money at whichever disaster might be in the news today.

Update: Some bright spark has set up a “Socks for Japan” drive. I’m not making this up. I trust that none of my readers are silly enough to send socks to Japan, but this is a great indication of how wasteful a lot of well-intentioned giving can be.

Comments
318 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

sapet298, ah yeah, there’s nothing wrong at all with shock-value titles to get more clicks for his article at the expense of others’ feelings. I mean it’s just “cold logic” after all. Right? Oh, and let’s make fun of someone gathering and handing out socks to cold victims while we’re at it.

must be a good friend of the author or like-minded devil’s advocate.

Posted by noisy | Report as abusive
 

Well Felix, I hope you’re enjoying all the attention you’re getting – I presume that was your intention when you decided the headline and content of for your article. The people of Japan need support and at this stage. They need to know they are not alone, that the global community is with them. The survivors have been through a mag 9.0 quake, a massive tsunami, and now what looks like multiple nuclear meltdowns. This is an unprecedented disaster. Your response: this article? Enjoy your lime and squash – others are sitting in the snow, with no possessions, little or no food and water, no options, wondering now if they will die from radiation poisoning.

As for Reuters giving this guy a public platform to express himself? A few days ago you ran an article entitled: “Stop worrying about nuclear power, you idiots” which was also based on a serious lack of awareness (the title was serious – no sarcasm was intended). You are no longer a source of well researched journalism. You’ve become a sideshow of cheap tricks to get people to visit your site. You should be ashamed. I’m through with you as my news source after the lack of responsibility you’ve shown in response to the ongoing events in Japan. Others are doing a much better job. I only hope none of you are ever have to experience what the people of Japan are experiencing now.

Posted by dcom | Report as abusive
 

Felix Salmon…

Your words and article are ill timed, ill advised and clearly shows you have very little respect for the fact that your opinion are broadcast worldwide through Reuters and what damage it may cause.

As such you may have a direct impact on aid that would have helped save lives or at least improve them. If someone wants to give socks to people in Japan to keep their feet warm what is wrong with that?

You have crossed over the line of good sense and human decency.

I read the disclaimer Reuters makes about bloggers opinions not reflecting the viewpoint of the Reuters Corp.

Now I understand why… However they are responsible for being a conduit for your extremely wrong message sent at the wrong time and place. Therefore I am writing to all the corporate contacts I can find at Reuters asking you be removed from their web site as a blogger, writer or what have you.

I am providing the link here for others to follow my example. I hope you have the good sense to apologize to the people of Japan, Reuters and the international readers for your spiteful and disgusting article. Japanese culture is too polite to respond to you sir, so I am doing it for them.

To impune someone who is giving a means of comfort to the people of Japan even if it is socks, scarfs, blankets or even words of comfort is so low and so offensive that it deserves nothing less for you to lose your job.

Here is the page where you can contact Reuters through email. I encourage everyone who agrees with me to do the same. In this way we hopefully show Reuters they have to be responsible for what they allow to be published.

It will also send a message to Felix Salmon that he needs to think more carefully before he slanders people who are trying to help others in need without first thinking what effect his words may have on others in a public forum.

http://thomsonreuters.com/news_ideas/med ia_contacts/
http://thomsonreuters.com/news_ideas/med ia_contacts/#corporate

I am also calling corporate tomorrow to let them know that I am not crank reader or some vindictive psycho but someone who has lots of media contacts and have done PR campaigns for major companies and corps before.

You sir have gong far beyond what is acceptable journalism. I pity you for your lack of sensitivity, knowledge and in general good taste. Goodnight Mr. Felix and good riddance.

Posted by helpforjapan8 | Report as abusive
 

Hey Salmon, it worked, your catching provocative headline, made us read the article. Thats what its all about right? Getting a response, proving to your employers that you’ve got what it takes to get the numbers. That good for business right ? You know, attracts the advertising etc etc. You’re such a professional. Wow bet you mom’s real proud too.

Global Editor Richard Baum, you’ve got a keeper there in that Mr Salmon. Way to go Dick. I’m still waiting for a response though. I mean you are in the news business so I’m guessing you are aware of this article and the corresponding comments. Go on surprise us, show some decency and offer your comment, I’m sure you can if you really really try.

Posted by cirom | Report as abusive
 

Let me tell you one thing, you must be a sorry person! ANYONE who would turn their back on another human just because you THINK you know they don’t need it is a sorry excuse for a human!! I live in America and last May when we lost everything in a flood this town came together and helped each other poor OR rich it didn’t matter we helped each other. When the time comes and you need help you better remember your words when these kind people who cant even find things they need for I.D. or insurance or even proof of where there house once stood turn their backs on you! SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!! You should only have to go through half of what they are!!!!!! Yes you need to be fired!!!!!!!

Posted by stormywillow | Report as abusive
 

@noisy I’ve never heard of Felix Salmon before reading this article. However, I don’t believe in viciously attacking someone for expressing the idea that efforts to help a group of people may be doing more harm than good.

Posted by sapet298 | Report as abusive
 

thanks helpforjapan8! I’ve already sent a complaint to one Reuters account but will copy to the contacts you provided.

If interested, you may be able to reach Felix at Felix@felixsalmon.com – that is until he disables the email.

Posted by noisy | Report as abusive
 

Hi sapet298, it’s all about timing and compassion. he could have written an interesting article that examines the complexities of non-profits, disaster-relief and effective use of funds but he, instead, made a conscious choice to use shock-value at the expense of others and still made fun of the group donating socks. and you feel bad for him? really?

Posted by noisy | Report as abusive
 

Wow, most of the haters on here most likely haven’t donated anything anyway. Just a bunch of keyboard warriors trying to make themselves feel good. The author makes completely valid points, yet you live in your bubble as if you know how to solve large-scale emergency problems. Maybe the title is off-putting; what in the article, however, is false? Get over yourselves, click another story and live your life.

Posted by chefhusker | Report as abusive
 

As a bookkeeper for a non-profit, where earmarked funds complicate and limit our ability to provide services, I like the suggestion to donate unrestricted funds. Thanks for pointing out how limiting specific relief fund donations can be for the organizations.

Posted by unrestricted | Report as abusive
 

As a professional fundraiser, I appreciate the broader analysis of philanthropy that has been shared in this article. I particularly appreciate the specific detail given to restricted vs unrestricted funds. It is in my opinion that unrestricted donations to an organization that does work that is core to the donors philanthropic goals and values always make the make the donor happiest.

If one cares about offering assistance to those blindsided by a natural disaster then just donate to ANY organization one trusts, whether they advertise or not, that does that work. Donate to Red Cross or MSF now, but please don’t restrict the funds to Japan–even if the organization asks that. Give freely.

Posted by Louisvillewoman | Report as abusive
 

I think the author makes great points, though apparently needed to go into more detail to explain them. Any time you give money to a nonprofit, your money can be used where it is most needed if you do not specify where it should be spent, versus earmarking it for a specific purpose. Even, for example, if I donate to my alma mater — I can donate to a specific athletic program, scholarship, etc….but an unrestricted donation allows the school to use the funds for basic needs such as building maintenance or electricity bills. Not glamorous or high-profile things, but necessities. I don’t think any of us would deny that the damage to Japan is horrific, but I don’t think it is discriminatory to suggest that other parts of the world may be more in need of financial assistance.

In addition, while I’m sure the person collecting socks for Japan has his heart in the right place, and even the basics are needed for many people there right now, it doesn’t seem very efficient. By the time I buy a pair of socks, package them up and pay for international shipping, it seems like a donation of the same funds to a local charity who could buy bulk and not have the international shipping costs could make my money go much further. Say I spent $10 or $15 USD to buy and ship a pair of socks. If I gave that same amount to a charity in Japan helping with the relief, they might be able to purchase and donate three or four pairs of socks. When individuals feel strongly about making donations specifically for this cause, I would think most would want their contributions to make the maximum impact possible. Buying and shipping a pair of socks seems like a nice thing to do, but not the most impactful.

Posted by dc9992011 | Report as abusive
 

I think a much better title for this article would have been “Give wisely to organizations aiding Japan” or “Give to organizations that truly are in need”. The title given is simply sensational, unnecessary, and, based upon what the author is actually saying in the article, misleading.

Posted by sjyd | Report as abusive
 

I agree with the poster who said you ruined a good message with a provocative headline. And like a few others here, I have worked in nonprofits and understand and appreciate what you advise about general support. @mattjblythe: The Red Cross put that fine print there because, you may remember, they got in a lot of trouble over a disaster – I think it was Katrina – when they were accused of not using every penny donated for Katrina right there in Louisiana, and had to defend themselves.

Posted by Justonce | Report as abusive
 

Most people want their money to go to something tangible. I think it is great to give to something specific, especially if something “moves” you to do so…but people need to remember that earmarking funds often takes away an organizations ability to operate in an efficient manner. People rarely want to give to support the operating costs of an organization, but these things are a vital part of being effective.

Posted by heropinion | Report as abusive
 

Fuck You.

What an asshole you must be, writer of this article.

So your premise is basically…”Japan is rich and can print money…so don’t send shit to them”.

I think you must be a spoiled little punk who has no clue about suffering.

I’m sending a LOT of money (more now) to Doctors without Borders.

I can assure you that there are THOUSANDS of people who need direct help in Japan.

We here in the USA are also relatively ‘rich’ and can print our own money.

So….I guess you advocated NOT helping people in New Orleans a few years ago, huh?

Again…FUCK YOU…you spoiled little punk.

Posted by wasom | Report as abusive
 

Sadly, a poorly written article with even poorer timing. Donations from the heart are not about headlines. The magnitude of the horrific events were captured on video and it doesn’t seem real until you see the faces of the people that are suffering from unimaginable loss.

People are in immediate need of the very basics in life, I applaud bright spark for taking the initiative to help, bright spark gets it-we are just here to help each other.

No country, no city, no people can get through this tragedy without the help of others.

Mr. Salmon, if you had a well-intentioned point, it never came across…and then you closed your article by mocking bright spark.

Again Mr. Salmon, we are just here to help each other…

Posted by globalamerican | Report as abusive
 

I’m glad the last few comment authors actually bothered to read the article. The previous 20 comments (by noisy and earlier) just demonstrate how clueless and reactionary so much of the internet population is. He didn’t say don’t donate! He said don’t donate specifically to whatever sensational disaster is plastered all over FOX news and youtube! Donate “Wherever the Need is Greatest” (that’s what the checkbox usually says on the donation form). That’s what I did for both Save the Children and the Red Cross. While we’re all watching crazy videos of tsunami waves washing through Japanese cities, which is absolutely tragic and my heart goes out to the people suffering there, there are still people suffering in paces like Haiti, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Places where, as Felix points out, there isn’t already a first world economy and infrastructure to support and help the people in need. Yes the headline was a bit of an attention grabber, but the point he makes is correct and somebody needed to say it. It’s just too bad the masses are too thick headed to get it, even when you slap them with it.

There is no getting through to some people.

Posted by PaulWh | Report as abusive
 

People who have written aggressive comments about this article simply misunderstood what the article wants to say. I too was about to make a donation to Japan, but after reading this article, I changed my mind. I hadn’t realized until now about restrictions in donating to a specific cause. From now on, I will be doing unrestricted donations. The article’s idea is absolutely valid and it is not about NOT donating money to Japan; it is simply about making donations wisely. And please: learn to read WISELY!

Posted by pbeza | Report as abusive
 

Felix Salmon is 100% correct. Donate your money to a known and trusted org. Like say The Red Cross. Japan is a rich and power country where the average Japanese worker earns $35,000/yr. They have the world’s best earthquake recovery system. If you donate to an Org. like the Red Cross you know your money will get to the source you want it to go to. If you donate only to Japan its possible your money will get lost in a vast bureaucracy with no experience of distributing funds on a priority basis. The Haitians have not yet received one cent of the USA $billions donated to them last year . just an example of how right Felix Salmon is.

Posted by GalacticCat | Report as abusive
 

Felix Salmon is 100% correct. Donate your money to a known and trusted org. Like say The Red Cross. Japan is a rich and power country where the average Japanese worker earns $35,000/yr. They have the world’s best earthquake recovery system. If you donate to an Org. like the Red Cross you know your money will get to the source you want it to go to. If you donate only to Japan its possible your money will get lost in a vast bureaucracy with no experience of distributing funds on a priority basis. The Haitians have not yet received one cent of the USA $billions donated to them last year . just an example of how right Felix Salmon is.

Posted by GalacticCat | Report as abusive
 

I’m going to comment again on this:

Felix Salmom..you are a spoiled little punk.

I really cannot BELIEVE that Reuters is allowing this crap to be published, let alone the fact that this writer still has a job there.

Felix? You just caused me to give TWICE as much as I was initially going to, just to make up for the fact that thousands of brain-dead moron Americans will latch onto your hateful headline and decide not to give anything.

Posted by wasom | Report as abusive
 

Everyone’s already given you the appropriate amount of hate for your ridiculous title, so I won’t go into that.

But even the content of your article is pretty appalling.
It seems you have two main points: 1)Japan doesn’t necessarily need that much money and starving kids in Africa definitely need it more 2)If you give money to an organization that doesn’t know what its doing, its gonna be wasted.

On your first point: Really? This earthquake/tsunami may turn out to be the most costly natural disaster in history with an obscene amount of destruction, do they really not need the money for rebuilding? Sure there are starving/diseased kids in Africa and it sucks (maybe it sucks even more than 14,000 Japanese wiped out in 20 minutes), but does that mean no one should donate any money unless it always goes where its most sorely needed?

So no one should donate money to help inner city schools get better facilities/donate money to find the cure to that disease that killed their mother/help rebuild someones house after it was flattened by a tsunami, simply because THERE ARE STARVING KIDS IN AFRICA AND THEY NEED IT MORE!?

And your second point is not really a point at all. If you donate money to a clueless organization then they are going to waste it? Thanks Einstein. Obviously if you donate, you should make sure the charity knows what the hell its doing, tsunami or not.

Donating money is NOT investing. We don’t always want (nor will likely ever get) the most bang for your buck. We donate to a cause because it had a strong personal effect on us and we feel we can help that cause. And the Japanese DEFINITELY need a helping hand right now, regardless of the numerous other causes out there you deem to be more ‘worthy’.

Posted by lochmonster | Report as abusive
 

salmon wrote this using japan’s problem to propel himself forward and get a response. i HATE journalists who try to be all controversial. in a situation like this when thousands of people have died, and many more are left cold in snow, without heat, food, electricity and water, and worse now with a nuclear problem, this is not one of those times to try and be a smart alec.

there are so many ways, as a professional, for him to generate a response and pageviews, if he had any talent in writing at all. instead, he went the cheap route and did a low blow. i lived in japan for years and have so many friends there who are suffering. i don’t need someone telling the world, on a website like reuters, not to donate. if he meant to say “donate to proper organizations”, then he should have said it loud and clear and to the point, like anyone with the right mind would. instead, salmon chose to use a title such as “don’t donate to japan”, which makes me sick to my stomach.

i have a blog myself and i have also contributed articles several published magazines (albeit on a different genre like lifestyle and fashion, and an amateur level), so i understand the need for writers to have a title that might be shocking and eye-catching. however, this is not the time to be doing this. you want to generate a response in times like this, you write a piece that touches the hearts of people, that alerts them that there might be fake organizations out there trying to get at our donations, and you provide links to organizations that are evidently and properly helping japan right now. you don’t tell people not to donate socks, because god knows in the dead of winter in a cold place like northern japan, one would want some thick socks to wear because they have no roof over their head!

japan might not be a third world country but it isn’t a wealthy country like he said – it was already trillions of dollars in debt, and each of these nuclear plants are costing them like a billion dollars. if they are printing hundreds of billions of dollars right now to try to pump money in the economy, it is still not a good thing in the long run for the japanese economy.

when you donate to a cause, these huge organizations have to send money towards that cause and i don’t believe it gets filtered to other things. there’s no point in telling people that they shouldn’t wait till a disaster like this to donate. the fact is the disaster is NOW and japan needs all the help it can get. and besides, anyone who actually donates to a non-major organization just has to know that there is that risk there, and that’s their own responsibility to check how genuine it is.

the bottom line is this: people have lost their houses. they have lost their families. it is winter and snowing. they have no clothes. no food. no water. they have NOTHING.

please offer any help you can. skip on a week of your starbucks coffee and donate that money instead. treat others like how you would want to be treated. they need our help now and we need to give it.

Posted by gildasu | Report as abusive
 

wow i had to comment on this again. i never took economics in school and know nothing about finances, but even i know that printing money now to try to pay for the immediate loss is not a good thing for the japanese economy in a longer run, and leads to inflation, which means these people who now have to deal with radiation and who have cracks in their houses from the earthquake, or worse still, no more house because of the tsunami, will not be able to afford a simple rice ball to feed their hungry stomachs.

so how is it that even i know about this simple logic and this guy doesn’t? the more i think about this article, the angrier i am.

Posted by gildasu | Report as abusive
 

Felix Salmon should be FIRED IMMEDIATELY from Reuters for this hateful, disgusting piece of shit that he slung out there as ‘journalism’ at a time when THOUSANDS of Japanese people are in SERIOUS need and will be for some time to come.

In fact, I think I will personally see to it that I do everything in my power to try and have him fired.

He needs to be working for ‘Entertainment Tonight’ or something….

or maybe just slinging burgers.

Felix….you’re a punk and a hateful one at that.

Ric Swanson
Austin, TX

Posted by wasom | Report as abusive
 

Who the hell is this guy’s boss?

I WILL find out.

Posted by wasom | Report as abusive
 

Please don’t? Please don’t???
What a mean soul. I hate to believe such a nasty people does exist in our community. I don’t care whatever ill-mannered philosophy this person has but, if this person wants to address his thought to public, I quietly advise him to be matured enough to pay respect to the broken heart people before he opens his mouth. I also would advise Reuters not to degenerate yourself into a cheap billboard for bragging journalists.

Posted by JunkTaicho | Report as abusive
 

Felix, I 100% agree with you. You have my full support.

Posted by MYC | Report as abusive
 

The article has some valid points. But the headline really made me sick. That is just cheap journalism. I didn’t realise Retuers is sinking so low these days. Why? too much competition from Fox news?

Posted by HunnicGomes | Report as abusive
 

While some of your sentiment seems like grandstanding, I agree.

The last thing most countries hit with disaster need (immediately) is money. The entities that are sending actual support need the money.

In Japan’s case, this is mostly being done internally but this is a nation that really has little need for our pennies in a bucket (look in your driveway and tell me what brand of vehicle you see there, or what TV you have, or what stereo, etc, etc ,etc).

Even if (and I find it highly unlikely) Japan needs financial contributions, they’re still in the ‘digging out bodies’ stage. The money people are sending is currently going no where and doing nothing. Or worse, being sucked into bogus disaster charity scams.

Posted by Balthozar | Report as abusive
 

Jeez Louise, America is sinking into a miasma of cynicism.

The author of this article may have the best intentions in the world, but the headline is disgusting, perverse, and revolting. It is a half-step away from the guy who said that he was glad the human toll was greater than the economic toll.

And trying to leave a comment here, I almost have to provide a retinal scan just to soothe Firefox’s worries about connecting to MY OWN Facebook page.

America is suffering from a moral meltdown far worse than Japan’s nuclear reactors. A morality of decency, honesty, and compassion. A morality that has NOTHING to do with tax breaks for the wealthy or whether two men who love each other can get a certificate at city hall, but EVERYTHING to do with respect and fairness.

We are each responsible for the future of America. But there will be no America left for you if you let the bullies walk away with the goodies.

Posted by EQReynolds | Report as abusive
 

The point of charity is to GIVE. If you give expecting thanks or with the intention of following the money around to make sure it’s spent the way YOU intend, you are NOT giving…you are lending with expectations of getting something back. It’s also an insult to assume that people will not check out the agencies through which they make their donations.

Posted by allyanaz | Report as abusive
 

we care about the people of japan , that’s why we give money to charity for that specific purpose. as shows last year, people do not care about pakistan and we do not want our money diverted to help people we don’t like. even haiti, our money just goes into a black hole from which nothing good will come out. but with japan our donations and our economic support will help rebuild japan better than before. they are hard working industrious people who have always been generous to others. now is the time of their need and everyone, no matter how poor or rich must give to help them.

Posted by thatguy123 | Report as abusive
 

Does “obviously didn’t read the article before commenting” count as “abusive”?

Posted by CarsonChittom | Report as abusive
 

Wow Obviously the majority of people responding here did not actually read this story they just skimmed… Way to go Morons!!! Try going and actually reading the story now.

Posted by Gobba-gobba-goo | Report as abusive
 

The comments to this blog has provided a very sad commentary on our collective intelligence and ability to have a civil dialogue based on understanding of a very well thought out and logical statement made by Felix Salmon.

For those of you that chose to comment on the Title of the blog rather than on the content here are some bullet points.

A. When donors earmark specific donations to a specific disaster it can lend itself to a surplus for one disaster and a shortage for others.

B. Money is not in short supply in Japan as it is a wealthy country and perhaps you money will do some good but it’s likely it will just sit in a pool and do nothing if all an NGO can do is spend it on Japan

The Bottom Line
“Don’t donate to ‘Japan’” but DO donate to a charity (such as Red Cross) and allow them the power to distibute the funds as necessary. PLEASE donate UNRESTRICTED FUNDS to good charities. It will allow your money to do more good and free it up if its not needed to support the Japan disaster.

That is all the author was saying and it makes perfect sense. If you reacted negatively to the headline then perhaps you need to check yourself and your capacity to seek to understand others before jumping to conclusions based on your initial response. Your initial response may be flawed.

Posted by ezyoneAZ | Report as abusive
 

Felix Salmon had every intention of ruining Japan with his blog. He pleaded over and over again DO NOT DONATE TO JAPAN. In addition, he went on and on about his reasons why.. because they are rich etc. Yes, he wasn’t against donations to poor third world countries but just not to Japan because hes says they don’t need it. He is DESTRUCTIVE and EVIL!
All the posts that are saying that he is great are probably his friends and family scrambling to help him out because he needs to BE FIRED!!!!!!!

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive
 

Thank you Helpforjapan8! I loved your post. I will post it again so everyone can make sure to contact Rueters!!!
PLEASE CONTACT RUETERS AND FIRE FELIX SALMON!

Felix Salmon…

Your words and article are ill timed, ill advised and clearly shows you have very little respect for the fact that your opinion are broadcast worldwide through Reuters and what damage it may cause.

As such you may have a direct impact on aid that would have helped save lives or at least improve them. If someone wants to give socks to people in Japan to keep their feet warm what is wrong with that?

You have crossed over the line of good sense and human decency.

I read the disclaimer Reuters makes about bloggers opinions not reflecting the viewpoint of the Reuters Corp.

Now I understand why… However they are responsible for being a conduit for your extremely wrong message sent at the wrong time and place. Therefore I am writing to all the corporate contacts I can find at Reuters asking you be removed from their web site as a blogger, writer or what have you.

I am providing the link here for others to follow my example. I hope you have the good sense to apologize to the people of Japan, Reuters and the international readers for your spiteful and disgusting article. Japanese culture is too polite to respond to you sir, so I am doing it for them.

To impune someone who is giving a means of comfort to the people of Japan even if it is socks, scarfs, blankets or even words of comfort is so low and so offensive that it deserves nothing less for you to lose your job.

Here is the page where you can contact Reuters through email. I encourage everyone who agrees with me to do the same. In this way we hopefully show Reuters they have to be responsible for what they allow to be published.

It will also send a message to Felix Salmon that he needs to think more carefully before he slanders people who are trying to help others in need without first thinking what effect his words may have on others in a public forum.

http://thomsonreuters.com/news_ideas/med ia_contacts/
http://thomsonreuters.com/news_ideas/med ia_contacts/#corporate

I am also calling corporate tomorrow to let them know that I am not crank reader or some vindictive psycho but someone who has lots of media contacts and have done PR campaigns for major companies and corps before.

You sir have gong far beyond what is acceptable journalism. I pity you for your lack of sensitivity, knowledge and in general good taste. Goodnight Mr. Felix and good riddance.

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive
 

For starters, what’s with the title? Seriously. Has Mr. Salmon ever heard of yellow journalism? Secondly, I get the fact that donations don’t always find its way to victims. It’s unfortunate, but it cannot be used as an excuse to withhold money when there clearly are people who need help. Donors just have to be careful when selecting which organizations to donate to. Third, Japan is a wealthy country, indeed. However, they definitely need money RIGHT NOW. Printing money will not solve anything; Japan needs money from abroad. If something similar happened on the West Coast, would the author say that people shouldn’t donate to the United States because it’s a rich country?

Finally, this opinion piece is just plain cold and disrespectful. People died in Japan, families have been torn, and rescuers are risking their lives to save whomever they can reach. Not to mention, radiation is a huge concern at the moment. In the midst of chaos, how can someone downplay the severity of the situation by saying “don’t donate money to Japan?” I just can’t believe it.

Posted by DaveWinkler | Report as abusive
 

I think this blog is irresponsible. Yes when you read the whole blog he supports some giving, and I understand the caution over giving in response to crisis as so much money comes in that is often mismanaged or difficult to manage.
But seeing it posted on Facebook and people commenting – oh was going to give to Red Cross but now won’t – means this blog is sending the wrong message with its headline that includes the words ‘don’t’ in relation to ‘give’.
Reuters – Really? do you think you need to use writers that want to hype or shock in order to get folks to read you.
And his reference to some bright spark and the socks campaign – that’s unnecessary and if he’d read the article it says the local prefecture is calling for socks to be donated to the local shelters.

Posted by Listening | Report as abusive
 

I don’t disagree that the whole process of raising and distributing money raised by charities might be flawed or inefficient. But to then conclude and indeed recommend that therefore one should specifically not give money to Japan as this journalist did, or to ridicule other people’s attempts to help, is at best insensitive and making the situation worse. To view the scenes of human tragedy on such massive scale and then not offer financial assistance because Japan is (was) a rich country, or other areas need it as well, or charities have proved inefficient in the past is really cold to say the least. A rich country? they haven’t asked for help? are you kidding me. Tell that to the people rummaging through what was once their homes. Maybe they should just go to the nearest ATM machine and draw out everything they need. But lets not have a few thousand people still looking for dead relatives get in the way of those pesky financial facts shall we, lets show those inefficient charities that we’re not stupid and won’t fall for their tricks. That’ll teach them right?
He explained the advantages or disadvantages of where to donate the money and point is well taken. But clearly some needs are more urgent than others. I did read the article fully, I did get it and still get that it was ill timed and the point made in a provocative journalistic manner, benefiting the reputation of the author no doubt more than any point he was so nobly trying to make. Ridiculing the sock gesture, no matter what difference that effort would actually make, was also tacky as in doing so it ridiculed the basic human desire to help in whatever way possible.

Posted by cirom | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Salmon makes some excellent points here, and the fake outrage expressed by so many of the people commenting here is in and of itself a sad commentary on the intelligence of the reader.

Posted by BTC | Report as abusive
 

I just want to add… I read the article 3 times…

- The first time because I could not believe it was on the Reuters site.
- The second time because I wanted to make sure I understood the authors POV
- The third time because I still could not believe it was on the Reuters site.

Although some have tried to paint this article by Felix Salmon as good advice and cry foul that the author is misunderstood. I beg to differ. It is clear he has laid out some very clear advice on what he considers the point of his article. Look no further than the headline. But if you do it is clear he is giving a backslap of the hand to small and large emergency aid charities who are actively trying to help the people of Japan.

In the interests of transparency and fairness Here is the letter I sent to Corporate. I really hope some action is taken. As I stated in my letter silence implies consent.

Erin Kurtz, Calvin Mitchell III, David Girardin, David Crundwell, Tom Gilbert, Jolie Hunt, Erin Kurtz, Jo Crosby:

How is it that Reuters allows this writer to publish this article and headline under the Thomson Reuters corporate branding? Really the point of the article and headline is in extremely bad taste and it will damage the credibility of Thomson Reuters as a fair and balanced new service.

I am referring to the article by Felix Salmon called “Don’t donate money to Japan”.  Also his slander of the company/persons providing socks to people in the disaster zone is not only wrong but heartless.  Although he is trying to make a point to donate wisely (maybe… It’s very hard to tell from the way the article was written that he intended to do that at all …) it takes him most of the article in a very non-direct way to even come anywhere close to that point.  

And most people reading the article will accept it on face value for what the headline says… “Don’t donate money to Japan”. Would a better headline be maybe: “Donate Wisely to Japan”?  Imagine you are stuck in a shelter in Japan and you somehow were able to read ”Don’t donate money to Japan” on the Thomson Reuter web site… What would you think about Thomson Reuters then?  I might add the Japanese have always given generously to both the United States and other countries in a disaster.

If the only reason for allowing this article/blog to exist under the Reuter monicker is to drive traffic to the Reuters.com web site… well you have succeeded. I predict the article will go viral and erode confidence in the Thomson Reuters brand. This may not be the intent you desired. Not to mention the damage this article causes to the victims of the multiple disasters in Japan and to the people who are trying to help them.

Here is the link which is clearly listed as Reuters.com

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/20 11/03/14/dont-donate-money-to-japan/?cp= all

I see you publish a disclaimer which in this case does not absolve Thomson Reuters from a lack of bad judgement in allowing this drivel to be exposed and propagated through your website.  If you allow this to stand what articles will show up in the future all protected by your disclaimer?

(INSERT AUTHOR HERE) IS A REUTERS BLOGGER. ANY VIEWS EXPRESSED MAY OR MAY NOT BE HIS OWN, BUT IN ANY CASE ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO BE THOSE OF HIS EMPLOYER.

Will someone with some editorial control please review this article and future articles to see if they are fit for publishing before it goes in front of millions of readers on the Thomson Reuters web site?  Really show some corporate responsibility and good taste!  From a business standpoint you may lose advertisers and other forms of revenue by publishing this type of material.

Sincerely,
A concerned Thomson Reuters reader

P.S. You may wish to see if Felix Salmon will publish an apology or clarification before this goes viral. Just an idea!  Of course if I see no action taken by Thomson Reuters it will be implied that silence implies consent or in this case agreement with the article content. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, lastly I hope that your feet never get cold and wet from some disaster in your homeland. Hopefully some benevolent souls will show more compassion for your plight then Felix Salmon is showing the people of Japan…

BTW: Here is MY disclaimer:

I AM REUTERS READER. ANY VIEWS EXPRESSED MAY OR MAY NOT BE MY OWN, BUT IN ANY CASE ARE VERY LIKELY TO BE SHARED BY MILLIONS OF OTHER READERS.  I HAVE FRIENDS IN JAPAN WHO HAVE COMMUNICATED TO ME THEY HAVE NO FOOD AND WATER AND I HOPE THEY DON’T SEE THIS DISGUSTING ARTICLE ON THE REUTERS WEBSITE.

Posted by helpforjapan8 | Report as abusive
 

Reading the responses here makes me think that this article is actually very well timed and very important. I was all set to donate directly to Red Cross Japan, thinking that would ensure the money I want to contribute goes to help the people who need it. But who needs it ? How much do they need ? How much are they getting ? Japan, the nation, faces billions in losses and rebuilding costs, but how much to help individuals that the Red Cross helps ? I’m betting that given the generosity of people in light of a crisis like this, aid agencies may very well end up with surpluses that could be well spent elsewhere. Maybe Red Cross Japan would make good use of it, but my thinking now is to donate directly to the US Red Cross and make it unrestricted. After all, it’s not as if the Red Cross would provide Japan with less assistance if everyone made their donations unrestricted. And I’m quite sure that’s all the author is trying to say: donate, but let the aid agencies do what they do best. It just makes a whole lot of sense.

And the socks ? Seriously … is there any reason to think Japanese need socks ? Local aid agencies will get the people in need precisely what they need as soon as they can get it. Your socks and blankets will sit in a warehouse or on the tarmac somewhere while people are busily trying to figure out how to get supplies to people. I doubt there’s a shortage of anything that tens of thousands of people in Japan could need; it’s a matter of logistics and letting the experts figure out what they need when. There might be a thousand blankets sitting around while local aid agencies are spending funds on gasoline and food.

Anyway, I think the article is very well intentioned. It’s trying to avoid wasted generosity by people who mean only the best, and it’s a shame that some are too stubborn to realize that there might be smarter ways of helping than a kneejerk rush to “do something”.

Posted by JustSomeone | Report as abusive
 

Salmon has it exactly right. If you are moved to help people harmed by a natural or man-made disaster that overwhelms them, allow those who are best equipped to provide that help to spend your donation in the best way they can. While the Japanese government and NGOs have asked for very specific help from other nations–boron from South Korea, for example, a substance that is used to help stabilize nuclear reaction–they have made it clear that it is most appropriate for Japanese relief agencies to deal with the situation.

The problem is not lack of funding or lack of relief supplies–it is logistics. They need to deliver material to an area in which roads, railroads, port facilities and airports have been destroyed.

Many people have been moved by the extent of the disaster and the the quiet dignity and patience shown by the Japanese people–much different, for example, than those in my country the United States. I certainly have. But following good advice on how and to whom to donate doesn’t vitiate those feelings.

Posted by jjbolton | Report as abusive
 

Admit it Mr Salmon, no matter how valid your felt your point was, and I agree that point does have merit and many people may not have realized how charities function or react to specific needs, but it could easily have been made in a less conflictive manner, and dare I say it in a less self serving manner. What pisses me off most is that you’re probably getting more attention than you deserve or have ever previously had, (and yes I admit I helping on that score).

If other bloggers journalists etc were to publish an article preempted by a heading such as “REUTERS JOURNALIST RECOMMENDS NOT HELPING JAPAN BECAUSE THEY DON’T NEED IT” that would be equally attention grabbing, and misleading even if it was to some degree qualified in the article itself. But then the use and choice of words is your professional tool, so that was your intention wasn’t it. This sort of “reality show news” is of course standard procedure for Fox, Jerry Springer etc. and it seems that Reuters have also succumbed.

What isn’t surprising is your lack of response or that of your employers. Or is that too much of an effort, because we are all unworthy morons who don’t “get” what you were really trying to say. But I think we do Mr Salmon, we do.

Would a modification to the original headline with some caveat of explanation be beneath you. Or would that be pandering to the uneducated mob and undermine your high professional integrity?

Posted by cirom | Report as abusive
 

I understand why everyone is mad. If you think about it though, all the people that are mad about this article will probably go and donate money because of it. I think this guys intentions were to draw up controversy and in return get people to donate, through specific channels, money to help the relief.

Posted by jr_dill | Report as abusive
 

How charming. Now that you have been a troll and have people’s attention, is there anything else you’d like to say or can I go back to reading real news instead of self-important little blogger blurbs?

Posted by coriolana | Report as abusive
 

Agreed, this article is an epic fail.

Should have been titled “How to REALLY donate to Japan”, not “Don’t Donate to Japan” that’s just disgusting and inhuman.

Posted by NickBright | Report as abusive
 

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