When the mayor of a city surveys the damage and sees the death toll following a powerful hurricane, it is completely understandable when he says, “This is our tsunami.” We can completely understand a reporter putting this quote into a story. Hearing at least 55 people are dead is going to warrant a strong emotional reaction, and the reporter has a right – if not an obligation – to show the reaction of an elected official in the face of tragedy.
However, the media have crossed the line by using the victims’ emotional reactions to sell papers.
Words like “Ground Zero” and “Tsunami” were thrown around in many newspaper headlines on Tuesday. Why do the media put these words in large type? So they can sell the stories.
These terms, at least at the moment, are linked to horrific tragedies of mass proportions. While Hurricane Katrina is certainly catastrophic, it pales in comparison to the events to which these terms refer.
Hurricane Katrina, according to the Star-Telegram, could cause $26 billion in damage. This is much more costly than Sept. 11, but the human toll of the 2001 attacks will far outnumber the deaths from this natural disaster.
The death toll wrought by Katrina will seem insignificant when the final numbers are compared to the quarter million dead from the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Katrina is a tragedy, but linking it to other devastating events to sell papers is an insult to the memory of those who died and an insult to all who read the news.
We encourage TCU students to donate what time, money and supplies they can to help relief efforts. Mississipi and Louisiana will need as much help as they can get in recovering from this tragedy.
The only silver lining to this massive dark cloud is that, for the most part, New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., are still standing.