I mentioned last week that I was bothered about the way the awful news from Japan in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear emergency trifecta was being reported. Turns out I’m far from the only one. The Japanese are bewildered and angry by the way the Western news media have been focussing on the drama at Fukushima to the near-exclusion of reportage on the very real and growing humanitarian crisis elsewhere. Worse, the focus, particularly on American news networks, has been to talk not about how the incident is affecting the Japanese, but how it is likely to impact on American lives.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s seen American news programmes. They are shockingly insular. Foreign news is either a sixty-second sidebar, or non-existant. The rolling news networks have had to address wider concerns as a way of filling time, but even then the coverage is one-dimensional, and astonishingly ill-informed.
Take a look at this footage of pundit and harridan Nancy Grace, arguing with a weatherman about the likely spread of a plume of Godzilla farts to the California coastline.
Danny Choo writes an informed, comprehensive and geek-friendly blog about Japanese culture, and he has been tenacious in both logging the flawed coverage, and pointing out just how skewed from the reality it can be. Images like this give the lie to the fact that the population of Japan is evacuating in a mad panic. His must-read list of the most wildly speculative bits of news coverage includes, I’m sad to say, posts from the BBC News website, whose reporters really should know better.
I am not for one instant trying to belittle what has happened to Japan. On reading around I am more and more impressed and amazed with the way the Japanese are simply getting on with their lives and the job of reconstruction in the face of disaster. They deserve better and truer representation from the world’s news media then the lazy sensationalism that appears to be the norm. These are tough times for Japan, and they don’t need this nonsense.