a rant on news coverage of the earthquake in Japan

14 03 2011

I’ve been watching the news on TV more than normal the last few days because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  The power of the Earth is amazing, but it’s also extremely sad what the Japanese are going through right now.   I cannot imagine.  Not only are there thousands dead, but many more people lost everything and are homeless, and there’s the issue of not having enough clean water or food for everyone.  And on top of all that, there’s the potential for nuclear meltdown, which could affect us all.

I’ve been watching the news for just segments at a time, because there’s only so much “breaking news” and they start showing the same pictures and video clips and telling the same stories over and over again.  But here’s what irks me (and thus the reason for this post) — they’ll host an expert or professional in the field, let them explain the situation for maybe 30 seconds or a minute, and then they cut them off before they get through explaining.   “Sorry, we’re out of time.”  Really?  Instead of letting us learn more about the situation from people in the know, they have to cut them off so they can show the same clips again and reiterate how bad the situation is and how they don’t know what’s going on?  They obviously have the technology to let the experts talk while they show their videos and they can put text at the bottom to explain what’s going on for those just tuning in.  Actually, they already do this, so I don’t understand why they’re in such a hurry to get back to the regular coverage that isn’t anything new.

How much are we really learning about it?  Sure, we know about the disaster, but couldn’t they devote more time to hearing from the people who actually know what’s going on?  This was especially evident yesterday, after an explosion in the reactor at one of the nuclear power plants.  Both CNN and FOX News brought in science experts (one was Bill Nye the Science Guy and the other was a nuclear physicist), and both stations cut them off after less than a minute of talking and didn’t bring them back.  Both times it was very interesting and informative, yet both were dismissed to rerun video footage and speculate on what might happen with the nuclear reactors.

Ironically, some of these news programs have time for viewer comments from Facebook and Twitter and phone calls.  I’m not against that, particularly if they are presenting different viewpoints and choosing potentially valid perspectives.   But it seems odd to give the same amount of time to an expert as to an unknown person not even affected by it.  Are we really getting a fair and balanced perspective?

I suppose this is just the current state of American TV news… it happens when they cover politics, too.   At least we have the Internet so we have more options and more information.

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2 responses

14 03 2011
hi5bloggers

Yea thats understandable. Its really sad whats going on over there, I wish I could find some more information on it.

14 03 2011
Genki Jason

Interesting post.

News coverage in the UK sounds much better. The BBC has given this tragic news a thorough examination and put a lot of resources into covering it (but it can because it is a public broadcaster). We get full scientific breakdowns from reporters and experts as well as the videos.

I just hope that Japan can recover quickly.

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