Thursday, January 05, 2006

The media & the mine

I should clarify that in my earlier post about the Sago Mine tragedy (titled “Making a tragedy even worse”), by pointing out the erroneous newspaper headlines I was not blaming the media for making things worse. I was referring to the initial “miscommunication.”

A lot of fingers have been pointed at “The Media” (i.e.: big, bad, evil, journalistic vultures we all watch and/or read anyway or else they wouldn’t still have jobs).

It was not the media that informed the family members the miners were alive when they weren’t. They were merely reporting the scene when everyone started celebrating and saying the miners were okay.

As long as media outlets attributed their information (“Family members say…”) then I have no problem with the way things were conducted. Even better if they threw in a mention that there was not yet any official confirmation.

I do take issue with the headlines that ran in The Times Union and Daily Gazette, which declared the miners were safe without clarifying where that info came from. Both papers ran the same Associated Press article which accurately sourced the inaccurate info and contained a paragraph stating there was no official confirmation. But the headlines weren’t cautious enough.

However, an inaccurate headline in the newspaper is a drop in the bucket compared to the pain family members were already feeling. And the scene that resulted from the miscommunication would’ve played out pretty much the same regardless of whether there were any reporters and cameras there.


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