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Chaitén and the follies of the press 23 February 2010

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, volcano monitoring.
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Chilean newspaper El Repuerto has harsh words today for the sensationalist reporting by some sections of the press of the recent ‘red alert’ story. Under the rather neat headline ‘Chaitén: entre la alerta roja y la prensa amarilla’ (‘Chaitén: between red alert and yellow journalism’), the article points out that the red alert was nothing new and SERNAGEOMIN were simply reminding everyone that the volcano remained dangerous.

The writer argues that the press, however, were not interested in the facts, just in headlines about looming catastrophe. Nor are journalists generally interested in the South of Chile (or Argentina, for that matter), they only discover the place exists when they can write about a disaster there:

Once again grandiloquent journalism tempts us with its follies. This time it’s about the South, which exists, when convenient. ‘Red alert in Chaitén’, read the lurid headlines as old archive material showing southern localities under ash was dusted off.

Coverage in the Argentinan Clarín newspaper is held up as a particular example of the sensationalized reporting the writer is condemning.

(Under the ‘any volcano will do’ rules applying to the images used in news reports dealing with volcanic activity, El Repuerto‘s article is illustrated with a picture of Cleveland volcano in Alaska.)

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Orlando - 24 February 2010

I love the Chilean webcams, however, Chaiten’s seems to be down on this spectacularly clear day in Southern Chile. Is there any indication when the webcam for Chaiten will be up again?

2. Sam - 26 February 2010

The press has the tendency to sensationalize and comparing loss of human life is the paramount factor in natural disasters. Chaitén doesn’t compare with Haiti, or the earthquake in China in 2008. Chaitenos may have survived the eruption better than the Romans survived Mt. Vesuvious,but their city was destroyed JUST THE SAME!!


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