Friday, 17 April 2009


Awoke this morning to read of this tragedy in Afghanistan. Thankfully, the earthquake seemed to be a in remote area, and the damages/deaths are limited. My problem, however, is the coverage given to it. OK, it's a 'moderate' earthquake - according to the BBC - at a Richter scale of 5.5. Compare this with the Italian earthquake of last week, of which estimates vary between 5.8 and 6.8, which is described as 'powerful,' and causing 'devastation.' And yet, the similarity is size of the tremors is ignored, while the human element is amplified. Perhaps we should have two scales for earthquakes - one for the scientific size of the seismic activity, and another for the perceived devastation of the area. And perhaps even a third: how awful it is, in reference to how close the aftermath is to the West's heart.

I can see the obvious differences in effect. The earthquake in L'Aquila had much more dramatic and terrible consequences, or so it would seem. But the reporting of the Italian earthquake was immediate, dramatic, and sensational, gaining the top story on the BBC for at least 24 hours, if not longer, with touching scrolling pictures, personal stories, and 'the science bit'. This earthquake in Afghanistan has received second billing, next to an Obama statement. Admittedly, because the earthquake is so remote, it's difficult to get to, and thus, the same tone cannot be taken immediately.

But surely, if you're going to have drama about one, you should at least attempt drama about the other? The report on the Afghan earthquake reads quite jovially, almost as if nothing had happened. If the same disaster had struck in Switzerland, or America, for instance, even if it was remote, the reporting of it would be much more keen.

I sincerely hope the people in Afghanistan recover from this. Most of the villages affected would have been levelled. As I hope that the people in central Italy are swiftly rehoused and recover. All I want is a little parity in reporting. Please?


Rachel said...

The media makes me so angry. Am glad you highlighted this.


phil said...

Interesting insight, good spot!