Disasters and the media

So you might have seen my irate tweets and facebook status updates over the last few days. In the interest of sanity, I thought I should elaborate.

I have absolutely no issue with aid going to Samoa, American Samoa or Sumatra. I think that it is horrific what is happening to each of these nations because of national disaster and want to help everyone!

My issue is that because no Australians were killed, the Manila floods were largely ignored by mainstream media. I think this is a really appalling state of play. I understand that news has to be relevant and newsworthy, and that Australians affected by disasters make for a better news story, but I think it stinks. The Manila floods were just as newsworthy, over 250 people died and 480,000 people are without homes. Add to that the significant level of Australian business over there, and to me that sounds like something people should know about.

I guess my issue is with how the media reports on natural disasters in general. More than once during the Victorian bushfires I had to change the channel, or the radio station because I was appalled at the evident delight displayed by journalists that they got to report on a “story of their careers”. The willingness to exploit those who had lost everything sickened me…and it was all in the name of reporting back to the people.

For shame, Australian media. People’s lives are not a juicy piece of gossip and the relevance of a foreign story should not be measured only by how many Australian were involved, but rather on the merit of the story itself.


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