Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Have A Question(s)…

There was an 8.8 earthquake in Chile over the weekend.  An 8.8!  I live in “earthquake country” and that is HUGE!  In January, there was a big earthquake in Haiti; a 7.0 that caused incredible damage.  The one in Chile was 1.8 higher on the Richter scale than the one in Haiti.  A 7.0 is classified as a “major” earthquake (32 megatons of seismic energy), while an 8.8 is classified a “great” earthquake (15.8 gigatons of seismic energy).  An 8.8 is scary.

So, these are my questions…
Where is the day and night news coverage of the devastation?  Where are the hoards of people helping with the rescue efforts of those trapped and missing?  Where is George Clooney and the rest of Hollywood raising money for the relief efforts? 

I do understand that Chile was better prepared for an earthquake than Haiti was and that Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas.  Haiti’s destruction and death toll is horrific, and I’m not making light of it.  However, my point is that I was hard pressed to find out information on the 8.8 in Chile after it occurred without digging around online.  Other than the regular evening news (after the “Stormwatch” for our incoming rainstorm), there wasn’t any coverage.  Even the news channels continued with their regular programming without interrupting for information. 

Why is it media coverage is so overwhelming with some news and virtually nonexistent for other news?  I know that they can not possibly cover every newsworthy event on the planet, but it would be nice if the media’s coverage was more even. 

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.


  1. Commercial TV news assignment desk decisions are made based on what they think will get them the biggest audience. I'm guessing that Haiti got more coverage because there are a lot more people in the US with personal connections to Haiti.

    But, in general, I share your irritation. Why do kidnapped, blonde white girls get more coverage than girls of color who are kidnapped at a much higher rate? Why to terrorists get all the attention when they only kill a tiny fraction of Americans as things like heart disease, car crashes, or guns?

    I don't watch TV news. Period. It's all about sensationalism. I read my local newspaper and try to keep myself informed by looking for real journalism, be it in magazines, online or even on the radio.

  2. That is a very good question.

    I'll bet The Week magazine will have plenty of coverage!

  3. Basically, I think, the news media sucks at doing it's job.
    Like Teacher Tom said, they go for ratings, not informing the public.
    Another symptom of our culture's plunge into the toilet.
    Okay, off my soap box, too.

  4. Funny- my perception was kind of the opposite. The only news being reported on cable stations Saturday morning was the earthquake- but they had nothing new to report because no one could get close to the epicenter. So the focus shifted to tsunamis- because there was simply more to talk about. I got tired of the loop- they had nothing new to say and started saying dumb stuff ("Earthquakes don't kill people- collapsing buildings kill people")

    When I jumped on Yahoo an hour ago, the main story on my list of headlines was the earthquake. When I opened my internet and my homepage is Google News- again, the earthquake. And I just checked and NPR and both have headlines of the earthquake.

    In terms of celebrities and such- the need is different. And I know that there are countries pledging aid- I've read that online in those various news sources.

    I don't follow the news- I tend to avoid it. But I have it in my periphery so I am aware of what's going on. And I've felt pretty informed about what's going on.

  5. I thought the exact same thing. My sister's BFF's parents live in Chile. She's 9 months pregnant and hadn't heard a thing about her family. Barely any coverage. I'm guessing it is because they were "better prepared" (whatever that means for an 8.8 earthquake). I haD TROUBLE SLEEPING LAST NIGHT THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THE RECENT EARTHQUAKES. i KNOW THEY SAY IT REleases seismic energy and all of that, but that is a lot of big earthquakes in a short ammount of time. Jeesh.

  6. I was just in the car and AP news came on. The reporter asked exactly the same question!

    Part of her answer was that Chile's earth quake, although 8.8, occurred 20 miles off-shore, away from populated areas, and was apparently quite deep underground, whereas Haiti's was shallow and near major population centers, so there was far more damage.

    Also, Chile is an earth quake prone country, has strict building codes and good emergency response systems. This is the first earth quake anyone in Haiti can remember and they have no building codes and virtually no ability to respond to a disaster.

    In other words, in spite of the Richter Scale numbers, this AP reporter concluded that there was simply less death and damage in Chile, therefore less coverage.

    You ask and the world answers!

  7. Saturday it seemed to me that all they talked about on cable news was the Chilean earthquake. Having said that, I do agree that Haiti got all the fanfare for donations and celebrity attention. I gave, as did a zillion other Americans, but I'm sure the corrupt government of Haiti found a way to skim their share off the top.

    I made a donation through Catholic Charities designated for Chili.

  8. Wow! There is a phobia for anything these days. My fears...
    snakes, being photographed, and people walking or sitting behind me

    You're lucky, PD if that's all you have, but are you hiding a few, maybe?
    I found another source that lists 527 documented phobias. I'll do a post on that another time.
    It's an interesting topic.
    Every thing I claim is not serious or debilitating. Some are just annoyances.

  9. I will answer before I read all the other answers. I was just talking with Gary about this last evening.

    I think the difference is the media. They really decide what to talk to us about. And we just eat it all up.

    Plus, like you said, Chile is not as poor as Haiti. I think it occurred a little farther off shore than Haiti's did as well.

    I have a friend that is a missionary there and she said that it is not affecting her in Northern Chili.

    It is very sad though for sure.