Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Disaster ghouls

In Australia this past two months we've had flash floods, floods, a cyclone, bushfires and now New Zealand has had an earthquake. There has been a frenzy of reportage, a lot of the coverage over days, 24/7, at first patchy and inaccurate with amazing images... and then continuing patchy coverage with amazing images, often not meshing with the voice over. Often the same video image bites shown over and over again, with no connection to the story being reported, and no indication of the footage location or any chronological information.

Why do they feel the need to give such coverage when nothing new is happening... it's just the same rehashed reportage. No new facts. No new images - and when I see the images I'd like to know where they are taken and when, and what they are of, I don't want to see the same loop of striking/spectacular images played over and over and over again. That's not news, that's disaster ghoulism.

Disaster news is interesting, particularly if you are in it or near it but not directly affected by it.

Disaster news is compelling, especially when you have a connection to the area or the people.

Disaster news is informative, especially when you are given details on where and when the images have been taken, and when reports are compiled where images are given informative, factual narration.

But the weeks of floods, and the cyclone in Queensland, and the relentless coverage of these natural disasters was too much. Blanket coverage was also broadcast in other states and these people had no connection to the victims of the disasters so I think perhaps they would have become victims of compassion fatigue.

Then there was the hysterical heightened hyperbole element with reportage of these natural disasters, and with preemptive hysterical heightened hyperbole reportage of cyclone Yasi.

I'm noticing that the NZ earthquake seems to be reported differently, with the voice over of images telling us who the people are, where the buildings are, what's happening. Much more interesting. Perhaps they've concentrated on this because they've had time to put their packages together. Or perhaps these packages have been put together by NZ reporters who just have a better idea of how to report and what people need and want to know about their fellow countrymen.

Looking at the images from Christchurch, I was there when I was sixteen but don't remember much about it (too long ago), I am shocked. Watching those brave people rescuing people from precarious situations I am humbled at their selflessness and lack of fear for their own danger. Seeing the people in the street endeavour to rescue people who were trapped in crushed cars which it seems was a futile exercise.

I wish the Kiwis luck, and I know that Australia and Australians will help them as much as we are able.

Just a minor complaint, someone tell the reporter that the thing on the top of the Cathedral is not the tower, it's called a spire.

Oh look, the Aussie reporters are there, fresh from the disaster fields of Australia. Grant has arrived and his report is describing how the earthquake "targeted" older buildings. What?
Kochie is there (yes, I know it's Se7en, but that's what was on when I turned the tv on). A debacle.
Nine's got the Minister for (personal) Tourism, oops, Kevin Rudd blabbing on it, again with the background shots which don't seem to have anything to do with what he's talking about - but then again, at least we're not seeing the political disaster who is called Kevin Rudd.

Update II:
Crecscendos of praise. Did I mention that? The reporters seem to be searching for superlatives to fit to the rescue efforts.

Why, in these disasters, are some people so surprised and startled and amazed at the efforts made by strangers to help strangers? It's human nature to assist. I appreciate the quiet determination, the calm, with which people assist to rescue the trapped immediately after the earthquake. I don't understand why it is such a surprise to some. This is our culture...

Update III:
With the morning shows and ACA now over in NZ reporting "on the ground", d'ya reckon we can close our borders?

Update IV:
Skepticlawyer has donation to Christchurch Earthquake information, here's some info:
Donate online at www.salvationarmy.org.nz
By Post: The Salvation Army , PO Box 27 001 Marion Square, Wellington 6141, New Zealand.
Please specify that your donation is for the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.


bruce said...

'So far no Australian casualties' say the media.

I know it's a kind of formality to report that, but it seems wrong - At a time like this, kiwi/aussie are the same, or as close as can be.

Anonymous said...

I hope any orphans don't get bugger all help from the govt's as per usual (and in regard to your post last week).

Phil of Anglers Rest

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

And Chinamen and Akrotirians, Bruce. A ferry went down in Vietnam a week back and I stopped to find out where, it's a long place - nup, no information. But the report said something about Australian passengers.

We're the greatest, I say, the best cricketers - ooops - 7th best, but there's other more important data too. The media can investigate so easily and impart it. "Copy boy! Look up the atlas and tell me where is Halong Bay. Eh? A.. T.. L.. A.. Nah, too complicated. Google Google Earth." Mutters "Knucklehead!"

I agree with your review, kae.

Remember James Dibble and Ross Symonds? They'd simply read, authoritatively, facts and data and they were respected for their professionalism. That was in another time, I know, before TV began flogging everything from Subarus to log splitters in those moving labels across the bottom. The TV news and a cold beer is no longer an essential end to my day. I don't know their successors' names.

The southern NZers are a bit more matter of fact than we are used to. A local mate from there is just like Robbie Deans - economy of words, engages his brain first, a silent moment does not demand words, unflappable, practical. They're typically a bit reserved and aloof, too.

I saw that in the people - the woman calling to another who was trapped up above "Stay away from the edge" and people carrying injured on their back. Perhaps they don't need to first see a Premier having a sniffle and promising counselling for all, before doing grown up stuff.

There were only two parts that annoyed me.

A reporter asked the government fella (a minister?) the cost of the damage and another asked how many more dead were expected. Do they think the public servants have a graph and spreadsheets pre-done for each possible scenario of Airbus to Cessna crash, 2 hour bushfire to 45 day flood? Imbeciles - they deserved a "If there are no more sensible questions I have work to do."

And the ever present Australian TV warning "Some people may be distressed by our footage." Once again - grow up viewers, or switch off if you cannot handle life its very self. The news will not show anything they ought not in these times of dodgy court action for hurt feelings and broken hearts.

No wonder there were adults sobbing "I'm so scared" BEFORE half-a-Yasi hit - and they were already in the gummint safety centre!

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

Then I look in at Andrew Bolt's and find there is a compassion competition of niceness by the knitting club who are deeply offended, and demanding moderating out, of anyone who doesn't also show how nice they are to complete strangers by saying nice things about other complete strangers.

A few cynics and many wags are having a crack at the modern way of blaming factory smoke, dying poley bears and too many chico rolls for the weather; and punting on how quickly Bob Brown Green Pink will come out of the blocks to bag George Bush for making the factories smoke so.

Some of it is amusing but the old dears are, Gilliard like, harumphing that "Now is not the time." They are also psychologically analysing why a bloke is sweeping a road, feeling his obvious shock-pain which they have diagnosed from a couple of thousand miles distant.

A couple of notes on Labor paying for flights and funerals which is about as topical as it gets. But no, now is not the time.

Not the dynamic forum it used be.

kc said...

Thanks for the report, Kae. Have a friend in NZ...not close friend, but still keeping tabs...

Mick, I love you. What is a chico roll? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What is a chico roll?

Don't ask kc!

The idea came from the chinese spring roll, but any similarity as they say, is purely coincidental.

Basically it has shredded cabbages in there with some other unidentifiable inghredients.

At least I never could work out what's in it.
Mick might know more.

Oh and it's deep fried.

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

Vacuous Mel and Kochie Know All are there chasing ambulances? Tell me it aint so! They are nothing but snake oil salesmen and ghouls, as shallow as a river an inch deep and a mile wide - yeah, their popularity reflects our nouveau culture.

Chico rolls, kc, are what one eats on the way home after a big night out, at Greasy Joes. Cabbage, onion, carrot, minced meat and floor sweepings I think, done up like a thumping big spring roll and deep fried.

The sort of thing that feeds the beast when you're young, it goes straight to that extra burst of power catching waves. When you're not so young it registers as bad, evil cholesterol and a resigned shake of your doctor's head.

They're a bit like a zac and a sav, really. :)

Mick lovable? Struth! Last time I heard that it was me gay mate's mates, as part of their lifelong campaign to turn the big busted nose bloke to the dark side!! Every week I remind 'em they're what keeps me at Mass so long, praying for their sorry souls.

On reflection - baby daughter called me that too when she and her husband were angling for a bit extra for their European tour!

prairiecat55kc said...

You've done it again, Mick - tell this Yank Grandma what the hell a zac and a sav is next, eh?

Your chico rolls sound a lot like the egg rolls I used to eat by the pound. Never knew exactly what was in 'em. Duck sauce or hot mustard? Dad ate his with sweet & sour sauce we bought in Canada.

Well, now I've done it - I'm hungry again. I've taken my pill for the cholesterol, but think I'll stick with FAT FREE candy!

Minicapt said...

Zac- ANZAC biscuits: http://anzacbiscuit.net/anzac-biscuit-recipe.html

Sav- Sauvignon Blanc, for when you whine properly

... extended pinky required in Mick's milieu.


Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

"zac and a sav"?

Sixpence (5 cents) worth of chips and a saveloy - a battered frankfurt - using the ordering protocol and vernacular of the fish & chip shop across the road from school in the '60s. Standing three deep at lunchtime while old Greek Mick would work like a slave to fix everyone up by himself, muttering "You blokes are amimals, stop your swearing!". The old buggar probably made a fortune.

If one was rich one would order "a bob and a knob", twice the amount of chips.

bruce said...

sav: saveloy?

Battered sav, yum.


Merilyn1946 said...

Very good report Kae. Watched it yesterday as it was unfolding, as my nephew and wife and a newish baby daughter are over there working, [not the baby daughter], but as far as I know is in a different area. [Hillsborough, Auckland].
Gosh Kochie over there, figures, he has to try and get some ratings somehow.
KC you are not missing much with the Chico Roll, trust me.

Mick behave yourself, don't go picking on Andrew Bolt's people. Although I have to say have so far not made to many comments there this year, still read the tips of the day, and one poster I like is Potemkin Villager.

stackja1945 said...

Sad for NZ people but quakes happen. Where's Riley?
The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, also known as the Napier earthquake, occurred in New Zealand at 10:47 am on Tuesday February 3, 1931, killing 256[1] and devastating the Hawke's Bay region. It remains New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster. Centred 15 km north of Napier, it lasted for two and a half minutes and measured about 7.8 on the Richter scale (7.9 on the moment magnitude scale). There were 525 aftershocks recorded in the following two weeks. The main shock could be felt in much of the southern half of the North Island.
[1] The exact number of deaths varies according to different sources; the New Zealand Listener article cited below gives 258 deaths, but the Bateman New Zealand Encyclopedia gives 256. The difference is due to two people "missing" and presumed dead. Some articles add these two to the death toll, while others do not.

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

Speaking with our local rugby 1st grade coach's wife today I learnt he was heading home to Christchurch on a $50 special that Virgin (I think) has put on for genuine such travellers. Good work by the airline - wish the reporters would report that corporate's evil, selfish ways.

When I spoke to him on the night itself he told me, quietly and very calmly, he couldn't contact his parents, sister and brother in law at about the spot where the 'quake was centered. As it happened they were together away from home, where the chimney and part of the roof collapsed on their lounge room.

His wife was a bit shaken and happy for re-assurance - mid 30s Samoan / part Maori delightful couple who left the safe family seat 18 months back to pursue their complementary careers in sport (and adopted a talkative away-from-home-grandfather to their special two) - but their business-like demeanour is most impressive. No histrionics or overwraught self focus.

He never asked his manager to take over training for him while he's away, or to talk to the fellas about his extensive rugby union expertise and stellar career. Funny that.

Merilyn said...

Mick, was he a former "All Black"? Because if so that team will have a very good coach.

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

Samoan 7s, Merilyn, coached successful South Island Womens’ 7s teams (including tours of RSA and elsewhere), two premierships for us in two years – he’s very good. His next step up will be QLD Reds or similar. He knows Deans, who has assisted his career. At 40 he’ll still pull on a jersey and play two thirds of a game in lower grades now and then, as a bruising No 8 or flanker. Like so many of the ABs his great asset is a thoughtful, calm temperament.

As a rugby tragic I know All Blacks history back to front and admire their extraordinary culture of excellence. The Springboks are not far behind and still have the best record against the All Blacks, despite the rough road travelled.

I almost jagged a 12 month contract in Wellington two years back and was excited at the prospect of a season spent as a spectator of the splendid local NPC rugby.

Merilyn said...

The All blacks are just something special, haven't seen many games with the Springboks, but your Coach sounds good.
Umm Kae hope you don't mind the sport talk?

kae said...

Sport talk is fine.
I'm sort of writing a post, it's been in the pipeline for a while... but it's not about sport.
Sport talk away!

I've just had a LLD as I've not been 100% this week. Tell ya later...

Mick Gold Coast QLD said...

Oooooops! The last person I'd want to offend is kae!

Was being conversational, passing on snippets, 'cos about a third of our top squad is from Christchurch area, so I've heard plenty about the earthquakes from them this week and earlier on after our season ended.