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Tsunami and Western Media

One of my coworkers is safe in Bombay and has been sending me updates about the tsunami.

I’m seeing all these ‘news’ stories about how absolutely no animals seem to have died in the tsunami:

Wired News: How Did Animals Escape Tsunami? Animals certainly rely on the known senses such as smell or hearing to avoid danger such as predators. The notion of an animal sixth sense — or some other mythical power — is an enduring one which the evidence on Sri Lanka’s battered coast is likely to add to.

It’s called barometric pressure. Not a sixth sense. Not a mythical power. Animals (and some well-trained humans) can sense when it is going to rain or when the weather is shifting. Anyone with a bad knee can play part-time weatherman. This is not news.

What I find amazing is the media’s ability to focus on the wrong things, even in the face of overwhelming catastrophe. If you are going to report on the tsunami, focus on what has happened and how to help. Point to more pictures like these. Keep the reality there. Avoid the mythologizing of the moment. Stop trying to compartmentalize the tsunami, like you did with 9-11. Spare us from the anecdotal news blurbs meant to give us pause, entertain us, and distract us from this tragedy.