Last week I had a stereotypical “my generation” moment. I was checking my Facebook in the morning before I got ready for work when I saw one of my friend’s posts. He mentioned that Japan had been rocked by a huge earthquake and tsunami. I followed the news link and began reading the story.
I’ve made discoveries of most world events through early morning Facebook checks.
I heard about the earthquake in New Zealand that way. And I’ve used social networking to track developments that were trending in the US while I was overseas.
The bulk of my news
I tend to spend free moments following news with The New York Times. I respect their news coverage and think that the Times paints an accurate and unbiased picture of events unfolding around the world.
News coverage on Japan has particularly interested me. Yet while a disaster of unbelievable proportions is occurring on the other side of the world as we speak, the headlines on the area papers don’t seem to reflect that.
Last week’s March 18 headlines from The News Virginian, one week after the Japan disaster struck were:
- Employees to Receive Bonus
- Catch the Hook: Branding a New Hip-Hop
- Seven Snagged in Online Sting
- Seminar Puts Piracy Under Microscope
At the bottom of the paper, next to the UPC code was a tiny headline: Fighting to Recover: Nuke-Plant Battle May Take Japan Weeks, U.S. Says
Yes Virginia, there is a world out there
While search and rescue teams from Virginia have mobilized to aid the workers already struggling to locate and identify remains in the devastated areas, we aren’t really affected here in the Shenandoah Valley. And we haven’t even heard much about how Virginias are helping over there. Now that’s a local story!
I was watching coverage of the disaster last week. A local news station — I can’t recall which one — was covering area sports when one of the teaser headlines ran across the ticker reporting an explosion at a Japanese nuclear plant that had been crippled by the earthquake and tsunami. However, the news continued discussing a coach’s career from some college or other.
It’s not that sports aren’t interesting, but when prioritizing news, what should be a more important consideration: something that is going to affect the global landscape permanently, or who scored points at a basketball game?
The nuclear disaster in Japan has been compared to Three Mile Island and if it continues unchecked, could reach the proportions of Chernobyl. The economy of Japan has been seriously affected, and the potential risk of dangerous radiation spreading across the Pacific, although slim, is still a concern.
It’s a small world if you’re paying attention
And yet, even readers of the New York Times are less concerned: Below: the top ten most emailed stories from the New York Times last week:
- The Times Announces Digital Subscription Plan
- The Quad: Grant Hill’s Response to Jalen Rose
- William D. Cohan: Degrees of Influence?
- Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume
- SAT’s Reality TV Essay Stumps Some
- Letter: A Letter to Our Readers About Digital Subscriptions
- Pogue’s Posts: ‘Chimping’ and Other Photo-Taking Tips.
- Critic’s Notebook: Heads Bowed in Grateful Memory
- Well: Forget the Treadmill, Get a Dog
- Well: What Makes a Hospital Great
One article is about the Japanese crisis. The rest of them? I’m not sure.
Ignorance of current events concerns me. I can’t claim to be the most informed person on the planet. I have a particularly demanding full-time job. I have a social life. I spend more time on Facebook than I care to admit.
All I’m asking is that we start taking twenty minutes out of our day to watch something that covers world events other than globe-trotting celebrities behaving badly or getting haircuts.
Twenty minutes of reading the international headlines on CNN. Look at the differences between US headlines and world headlines.
As far as I can tell, America can’t tell the difference between news and amusement.
–Alex Klein, Transition Voice Magazine
If you enjoyed this article please share it and follow us on Facebook.