Fukushima, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP Oil Spill. Does anyone care?

The Fukushima 1 NPP
Image via Wikipedia

I question why the mainstream media isn’t continuously reporting the nuclear disaster in Japan? Reports now suggest that the radiation levels are the highest they’ve been since the Tsunami.

It makes me wonder if the media has any obligation to report important news at all? Or, are they only accountable to their shareholders to make profits? If the story doesn’t sell newspapers or gain subscribers, do they not bother to publish the story? Or is there some backroom deal that the companies payoff the news agencies to keep it quiet? I love conspiracies, so I WANT to believe there is some massive international payoff going on…

Is the public to blame for becoming so apathetic that they don’t care? Are newspapers obligated to report major disasters and keep us informed? Hurricane Katrina was front page news for a few days. Same goes for the massive BP oil spill. Remember that small south Asian Tsunami that killed a measly 225,000 people about 5 years ago? Those areas are still disaster zones and have problems, but no one ever hears about them again. I think I lean towards public apathy. If Canada can vote in Stephen Harper, and in the US George Bush, then we aren’t trying too hard to find the truth.

Is it human nature to get bored of such horrible stories, and just not care until it’s in your back yard?

In fairness, most media companies are still covering stories about Fukushima, but they end up on page 10…

Here is the Fukushima story reported over at Gizmodo.

In case you forgot, one of the worst disasters since the advent of nuclear energy is still underway. And although the initial shock has worn off, the radiation levels sure haven’t: TEPCO measured 10,000 millisieverts/hour—that’s fatal.This figure’s 3,900 times higher than the naturally-occurring cosmic radiation we soak up every year—only it’s leaking from the paralyzed plant every hour.

via Fukushima Plant Now Leaking Highest Radiation Levels Since Tsunami.

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4 Replies to “Fukushima, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP Oil Spill. Does anyone care?”

  1. Media organisations largely focus on stories they can *sell* to a bovine public. The public I speak of is not the many wonderful individuals which make up a good part of society, but the public when viewed as a single, whole, entity. A big part of what media organisations sell is drama. Once the drama has passed, the topic is no longer considered newsworthy.

    While I was working as a media advisor at an embassy I discovered the term ‘media fatigue’ – the point at which the public ceases to be interested in a story, and the point at which a story is no longer generating sales. When looking at the ‘news’ in this context it is easy to come to the realisation that ‘news’ isn’t actually ‘news.’ What ‘news’ means these days is ‘stories that generate interest (sales).’ This means that even when an item is considered newsworthy, writers will try to portray the information in a way that will best affect sales of the story – in effect by slanting the story in some dramatic way, often bending the truth in the process. Also, once a story has had its run, it will be put on the backburner until some new dramatic perspective can be offered for public consumption.

    Unfortunately, this means that modern news is really just another form of marketing selling entertainment for public consumption. Needless to say, working with the media has taught me never to trust anything they say.

    By the way, I have several friends who are volunteering in Fukushima now, and have other friends who have lost everything in the tsunami – one friend was speaking with her father on the phone when she heard him scream before the line cut. The next thing she saw on the news was the tsunami destroying her home town (Sendai). Her father is alive, but he’s lost pretty much everything.

    1. I like that term ‘media fatigue’. It makes sense. I suppose that we would all be very depressed if we were inundated with horror stories that never went away. Good for the pharmaceutical companies though! lol

  2. I do care about all three of those stories. Yet, the way the modern media now works is that when these serious situations first happen, they’re reported on seemingly nonstop at first. Then they do move to the back pages, as you’ve noticed. Then, later, they get anniversary or documentary coverage while reporters have since moved on to the next story.

    Part of it is the nature of the beast. Part of it is that the media does indeed cover far too many superficial events. And part of it is that large parts of the public would rather hear about celebrity news or high-profile crimes than a leaky nuclear plant half a world away ….

    1. I agree. Everyone cares about these stories. It’s just sad that we never hear the whole story, as we’ve already moved onto the next one. Thanks for leaving a comment!

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