October 30, 2003

Some Kind of Pictures on the Sense O'clock News

Guest Volokh co-conspirator Cori Dauber deconstructs the kabuki dance of the media's disaster coverage, which she calls the "tragedy template:"

We have a cycle and a geography of tragedy in this country. On the west coast, earthquakes and fire, in the square states, more fire, floods and tornadoes for the midwest, hurricanes for the southeast, blizzards for the northeast, and horrifying transportation accidents anywhere anytime. Whatever the tragedy, the networks immediately launch into their utterly predictable, by now completely ritualized disaster protocals -- a template for the coverage of tragedy. The greater the magnitude of the disaster, the more coverage there has to be, whether extra coverage is more information, or more ritual, as if to give less air time is to be disrespectful to those suffering, who no doubt have more on their minds than watching news coverage. The anchors must fly to the scene forthwith, donning khaki, even if it means anchoring, in Peter Jennings' striking words the other night, "from the ruin's of someone else's life."

One upside to this is that the tragedy template has temporarily displaced the Tet template.

Posted by JohnL at October 30, 2003 11:26 PM
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