A different take on the Chile story

It made a change to see the news agenda uplift the nation yesterday, as every mainstream outlet covered the rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners from their prison of 69 days, in so much detail that even the BBC seems to have felt the financial burden.

But to journalism lecturer Jeremy Littau, the miners weren’t the real story. “Chile is a story about journalism’s failure,” he writes on his website.

“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.[…] The proportion of response to story impact is perhaps the best illustration of the insanity we seen in media business choices today.

“The public sees a great story, and that’s fine. It really is. But on the media side, I see an industry chasing hits and page views by wasting valuable economic and human capital. 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.

“Will we band together and help out the poor and downtrodden here, or is this Chile story really just a welcome break from our routine of ignoring those suffering among us? Journalism has a part to play in how we answer this question.”

He isn’t the only person who thinks the coverage went overboard. While BBC World News editor Jon Williams gave his team a hearty pat on the back for its non-stop 36-hour coverage, one dissenter left a complaint that should surely leave any news editor questioning their commitment to global news reporting.

“The coverage of the rescue was non-stop and there was never a break to state the other news headlines – in fact many other important stories were missed. Would it really have been so difficult if, on the hour or every half hour, there was an update on all the news headlines? I use BBC News 24 to catch up on the news and the headlines but yesterday I couldn’t.”

Was the coverage excessive? Or is a good story so rare these days that it deserves a prime slot on the news channels?

Photo taken by Flickr user thomaswasnhoff, licensed under Creative Commons.




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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