I was up with Levi last night and happened to check out Twitter. My stream was already buzzing with news of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan. I read a few online articles about the earthquake itself, as well as the aftershocks and the tsunami waves it generated. I immediately sent a text to my friend who is currently hosting a Japanese exchange student. Then I said some prayers for the people affected, and went back to sleep.
This morning, my husband and I turned on the news to learn more about what happened. We saw footage of the destruction, video of the waves engulfing homes and land, and even live coverage from locations expected to be hit by the traveling tsunami waves.
On Twitter, many people who had just heard about the earthquake were commenting. News companies were issuing updated stories and information. Some people were already making inappropriate jokes. Others were seemingly oblivious – they were just chatting about life as normal.
I tuned into the radio on my way to work. Most stations I scanned were doing their regular bits. I heard a few mentions of the earthquake, but for the most part, the morning show personalities were discussing other things. I had to turn to an AM station to find more news coverage. Which raised two question for me:
What Media Coverage Should We Expect?
As media consumers and participants, what coverage should we expect about events like this? Should news stations offer continuous coverage or should they continue to report as usual? Should non-news sources interrupt programming to provide updates? At what point does the coverage become redundant?
I'm ok with tuning in to CNN if I need to, but I would think local stations should provide some updates, too. If it's news, it should be reported.
Does Extensive Media Coverage Desensitize Us?
In this day and age of multimedia clips – video, audio, photos – how much is too much? When we are exposed to images of devastating destruction, does it call us to action or is it just another photo in a sea of media overload?
For me, seeing these images makes the story more “real”. Suddenly the destruction isn't just a conceptual idea someone is speaking about, now it's something tangible I can observe happening. But after seeing the same media clips aired over and over, I start to tune out a bit. The power the story originally had fades, all to quickly, if you ask me. It's been less than 12 hours, and I wonder how many people are already tired of hearing about this and ready to move on to the next big thing.
These are just some of the questions and thoughts going through my head this morning. I've been “unplugged” for a couple hours, so I haven't seen any recent updates. What are your thoughts about the media coverage of this natural disaster?