the media disaster

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The Media Disaster Media coverage of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and school shootings is important so people will be informed, but the wide variety of media we have available now must be used responsibly. In February of 2005 Red Cross reported victims of the Asian Tsunami received $500 per affected person. Meanwhile, relief efforts for Uganda’s eighteen year war achieved only fifty cents per affected person. How can people be so generous to one disaster and so cold to another? People are more likely to donate money to victims of natural disasters. Natural disasters receive more media coverage and immediate assistance is often needed. Because maintaining popular attention is very difficult, complicated crises with “complex political and social origins” are less likely to receive media attention or communal aid. While natural disasters generally have the upper hand on social crises, the fight for media attention is a popularity contest. Glenda Cooper explains, “If you are stuck in a disaster and want to receive some relief, then you need to be caught up in an earthquake or volcano during the silly season (not during an event like the Olympics or the conclusion of the O.J. Simpson trial) and located in Europe or South or Central America, rather than Africa or the Pacific.” The unequal distribution of media attention depends on three variables: overlapping news stories, type of disaster, and “viewer fatigue” (Wheeler). The news often chooses topics based on “what all those other media outlets are talking about the most.” In 2010, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico dominated headlines. But there was another disaster of 2010 which remained unnoticed by most of the United States. Early that May, the Cumber... ... middle of paper ... ...age campaign was very popular. Anyone could donate ten dollars through their phone bill just by texting “Haiti” to 90999; 189,024 tweets contained the phone number (Social). Social media helped the Haitian earthquake relief tremendously. By that Friday, Red Cross reported raising 8 million dollars, “a far greater amount than any similar attempt.” In 2008, Hurricane Ike efforts received $190,000 from Red Cross. This effort, the second best fundraising attempt, is pitiful compared to Haiti’s 8 million. The “immediacy and availability of social media” was even utilized by “mainstream news organizations.” CNN created a page monitoring notable tweets and comments about Haiti. Eventually, $13.34 billion dollars went to Haiti recovery efforts. Social media gives people fast, easy access to “direct action,” a chance to act on their sympathetic impulses (“Social”).
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