There was a flood in Iowa a few weeks ago. That much I know. However, other than that, I haven’t been made aware of much else and it seems to me that most news networks haven’t covered much about it either. It seems like the 18 pregnant teenage girls in Gloucester, Mass. were more interesting to the media than the 24 deaths and billions of dollars in damage in Iowa and other Midwestern states.
Where are the celebrities to come to the aid of the victims being overlooked? Where are the telethons and fundraisers? And exactly what makes a natural disaster coverable? Is there some sort of casualty minimum I’m not aware of?
I honestly don’t get it. I was watching the KTLA news a couple weeks ago and there were absolutely no updates on the flood, but in case you were wondering how that guy in New Jersey was holding up in that Ikea he moved into, then stay tuned cause they had the scoop. And that wasn’t even Fox News!
During Hurricane Katrina three years ago you couldn’t watch the news without seeing a moving news bar at the bottom of the screen with constant updates. So what made Katrina so much more attractive to the press than the floods in the Midwest? Could it be that Katrina happened in New Orleans, the place where people flocked for years to have a good time in the city of great food and music, and the Iowa floods happened in, well, Iowa? But even despite the coverage of Katrina, the recovery process is still being poorly managed today three years later.
I don’t exactly consider myself to be a humanitarian, but when I hear there has been a major flood that has left hundreds of people homeless, I want to know about it. I first heard about the floods in Iowa on the news, but that was just about all they said, “Floods in Iowa.” No captivating details and no stunning statistics, just a few short video clips and onto the next story. Eventually, I just got so frustrated with the news I stopped watching it all together.
Let’s face it, Iowa isn’t exactly the place you think of when making your summer travel plans. But is that any reason not to cover the disaster that has destroyed so many of the lives of good, hard working people? Maybe the flood in Iowa will become more interesting to people when the prices of corn-based products increase and they realize that suddenly the tragedy is affecting them too.
I found that the best place to get information was at http://flood2008.iowa.gov/, a website run by the federal government. There I found updates, pictures and a place to donate. That’s also where I found out how serious the damage actually is. They say 20 levees have broken along the Mississippi River and anticipate the government will spend in excess of $15 million just to repair the levees alone. That’s a lot of money to ignore.
But if covering the actual floods themselves was such a tedious task for the media, can we really expect hard hitting journalism in the recovery process? Or has the fact that the floods have now started to subside freed the press of the burden of the disaster so that they can now devote their time to what they believe are the more popular subjects? Looking at the slow, but continuous, recovery effort in New Orleans still lacking in government funding, I won’t be holding my breath for an overwhelming wave of financial support for the Midwest. And seeing as the people who live in the Midwest have been supporting America’s economy for so many years, it must seem pretty ironic to them that now in their time of need, the economy isn’t there for them.
Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans toward the end of August 2005. The end of August, just as students were preparing to go back to school, summer vacations were coming to an end, and that summer care-free attitude was wearing off. The Iowa floods occurred toward the end of June. The end of June, just as students were getting out of school, summer vacations are just beginning, and that care-free attitude has just set in. I can’t help but think that if I was in school right now, I’d be forced to research what was going on. The priorities of the media are nothing new, but I still think the coverage of the Iraq war and the California fires are just pitiful. Why is it that the news that could actually affect us is no longer considered news?
Maybe news organizations think that people don’t want to be depressed by sad stories during the summer and would rather hear gossip like the stories spreading about those pregnant teenage girls or the latest celebrities entering rehab. And for those of us who actually do care, that’s a sad story in itself.