Friday, March 4, 2011

It's time to ease off

Is it time the media started scaling back the coverage of the Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath? I think so.

The saturation coverage is inescapable. It’s overwhelming and threatens to become oppressive.

It is also wearing thinner as journalists have to search harder for new angles. As time goes by, reporters will inevitably be tempted to keep the quake drama running by sexing stories up with tacky sentiment that demeans the victims of the tragedy.

I’m not suggesting the major media organisations suddenly pull all their reporters out of Christchurch. It will continue to be a running story for weeks. But the time has come to start giving space to the other important issues have been shunted aside over the past two weeks.

In saying this, I'm not backing away from my previous comments about the crucial role of the media at times like this. As in so many things, it's all a matter of balance.

After 10 days, the wall-to-wall quake coverage is in real danger of inducing reader, viewer and listener fatigue. When the radio news bulletins vary little hour after hour, you know the story is running out of legs.

Radio New Zealand National, for instance, is still running half-hourly bulletins throughout the night. That was justified in the immediate aftermath of the quake, when the story was changing constantly and there was a huge public appetite for information, but it now seems gratuitous.

Besides, it may be time to give Christchurch some respite from a relentless 24/7 media scrutiny that at times hovers on the edge of being voyeuristic.


JC said...

Beyong a certain point, the wall to wall coverage is creating for the rest of NZ a sense of ownership in what is essentially a Christchurch and Canterbury problem. Already people are saying Bob Parker shouldn't be fighting to hold RWC games there, Bob Parker should be doing more for the Eastern suburbs, Bob Parker should be planning to do this or that..

We, the people will be putting a lot into Chch, but it will only be 20-25% of whats required; the EQC, the insurers and the folk of Canty will be putting up the lion's share and its they who should be making the decisions as we move out of rescue and recovery mode. We and the media should shift back a few steps and let them get on with it.


The probligo said...

About the most pertinent commentary that I have seen thus far today comes from Tracey Barnett in this morning's Herald. Not on the web yet so the cheapskates will miss out.

Make it a must-read.

Karl du Fresne said...

Call me a prude, but I've deleted your post. Comments on this blog are mercifully free of the anonymous personal abuse rampant elsewhere in the blogosphere and I intend to keep it that way. You can make your point just as effectively without resorting to crass insults.