Thursday, August 02, 2007

Treating people just like pawns in chess....

Yesterday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis was like a punch in the stomach---like many other ex-10,000 Lakeians, I quickly tried to account for all my near and dearest. Thankfully, to the best of my knowledge all my family, friends and acquaintances are safe and sound. That of course does not include the numerous people encountered over my 18 years there and am no longer in close contact with anymore...when the names are released, I will read it with my heart in throat indeed.

If you haven't heard about this tragedy (which I am not linking too, as there are far too many vultures on it already), just go to any major news source and it's splashed over everything. Don't get me wrong, it is a tragic accident and hopefully just a freak occurrence with no real cause or person to fault. But, it happened to occur on a slow story day and the news outlets are parading it around and milking it for every tear-streaked victim and gory cleanup commentary they can find. If anything else newsworthy had happened yesterday, Matt Lauer and the Today show would not have flown there (spending 90% of their broadcast on it), nor would have nearly the entire CNN staff (filling both broadcast and tickers with "exclusives")! It would be a medium blip on the national headlines---while major on the local Minnesotan channels, naturally.

I almost lost my Fruit Loops when heading out the door this morning when a bumper for tonight's Anderson Cooper 360° came on "Dangerous Bridges: Silent Killers In Waiting, Are You Next?" Sheesh, while an inquiry should take place and the public should certainly demand a thorough investigation and hold our current construction processes up to scrutiny, does it really merit scaring the doody out of folks as well as tormenting those who have lost loved ones so soon after something so horrific?

My thoughts and prayers are with all Minnesotans right now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slow news day or not, it definitely was national newsworthy. It is after all a federal bridge. It exemplifies how lack of oversight and money we spend on our own infrastructer. Instead, we are spending billions of dollars on a unjustified war in Iraq! Hey, did you take issue when the concrete slabs fell at the Boston big dig for being oo the news 24 hours?

3:35 PM  
Blogger jen said...

Yes, I don't deny it deserved being on the national news and certainly warrants follow-ups if it IS in fact due to neglectful procedure in inspections and funding for such.

That STILL does not justify the kind of coverage the news outlets gave it---it was still "BREAKING NEWS" on CNN as of yesterday. Sending one reporter to cover the story and send back highlights is one thing; hosting your entire show from that location isn't in-depth journalism as much as it is glorification of tragedy for the sake of ratings.

However, thank you for your input and viewpoint on this matter.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the two of you are too extreme in your views. Yes, hosting the news from the site is a little too much, but it isn't really a glorification of tragedy for the sake of ratings. This has been a common practice in the news coverage and the world of journalism. The Iraq war found Christiane Amanpour there. Hurricane Katrina found Anderson Cooper smack in the middle of New Orleans. Were they there for the sake of ratings? Probably. But you neglected other factors, like the value of being live from a location. Hell, we could all save money and cut back of fossil fuel consumption if all the world journalists wouldn't fly into the United States to cover the Super Bowl live from the stadium! Instead of dedicating a huge space for the journalists and commentators from all world news outlets, why don't we just patch them in to our own American news camera feeds sans our own commentators' voices?

And as for the other extreme, even though it was newsworthy, it is sad that it had to take significant deaths for the news to make it national news. Bridges fall quite often, but nobody cares when it is at a rural place! Much like shark attacks that became the centre of the news a few years back. The perception of the sudden news coverage made it seem like shark attacks in the US coastline were on the rise, when in fact attacks have been declining!

In either case, let's not assume that the tragedy does not only involve those who live in Minnesota. On any given day, it is possible that an out of state resident may be driving on any given bridge. Why would anybody ever want to go to Minnesota is beyond me, and not a matter of debate here ;-) , other than the fact that there is a possibility that at least one fatality may be that of someone from Illinois. Or Indiana. Or Canada. Or non-Minnesota.

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