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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

what he said: journalist and new-media researcher Jeremy Littau…

…on the Chilean mine disaster coverage:

I see a story about journalism. To know that 1300 journalists have descended on this mining town to cover a worldwide story is a little disconcerting in an era of closed foreign bureaus and budget cutbacks….

Thirteen-hundred journalists – imagine what we could do with that. Journalism organizations are pouring resources into this as if it is the Baby Jessica 1980s and ’90s, with fatter newsrooms and no Internet. Really, does every major TV news network in the U.S. need a camera crew and reporters out there? In an era of satellite feeds and citizens on the ground who can pipe in material, does the U.S. media have to parachute in on a story like this?

The choice to shuttle all these resources to Chile does have an impact on what we cover at home. … Significant resources go to cover whatever shiny object the American consumption class will chase these days. The Chile miners story, while interesting and heart-warming, is really just the flavor of the week, another form of reality TV in the eyes of the business executives making the call of what resources to spend where.

The actual story has zero effect on people in the U.S. with real problems; it’s a wonderful distraction, which would be fine if it was distracting us from coverage of bigger problems at home. But that’s not the reality of this reality TV news story.

Let’s cheer for the miners, but let’s not forget that there is suffering here at home and it should get the same, if not more, resource allocation.

The mine rescue may have been riveting TV, but it was not great journalism. Hell, when I was watching the coverage on CNN, Gary Tuchman noted that none of the hundreds of reporters on the scene could get close enough to the actual mine shaft to see what was going on, so they were watching the pool coverage that was coming from close-in. So why were any of them there?

And there’s this, noted by Littau: “Mine Coverage Taxes BBC News Budget.” The upshot:

Among the consequences: only one correspondent will attend a climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, in November and December; and one fewer editor will attend the G-20 summit next month.

Additionally, the BBC will reduce staffing at a planned NATO summit in Lisbon at the end of the year. There would be “much reduced ambition” in the coverage of that summit, Mr. Williams wrote.

Not cool.

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