What makes news news?

The BBC’s news coverage of Hurricane Sandy has been exemplary. But on tonight’s news, they have repeatedly referred to the 30 deaths that the hurricane has caused.

They of course mean US deaths, a number that now sits at 39, plus one in Canada. For one reason or another, they are not mentioning the 68 deaths at the hands of the hurricane in the Caribbean, 52 of which occurred in Haiti, a further 11 in Cuba.

If Sandy had not made landfall on the US or Canadian mainland, the news coverage would have been minimal. Yet it’s likely that the mainland deaths will be comparable in number to those suffered in the Caribbean.

I guess various factors influence the coverage that the hurricane receives as a result of its US landfall. The US is a comparable nation to the UK, in ideologies, in language (mostly), in development. Brits have been to New York on holiday. We know the US from the TV programmes and films that we watch.

I find it quite saddening really. The newsworthiness of weather is not measured purely in terms of its impact on those living through the disaster. It is also measured based on the connection that the intended audience feels towards the disaster’s victims.


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