They did it again

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I watched enough of the sad, hysterical, over the top and depressing coverage of the mine cave in in West Virginia to see the beginnings of a sequel to Katrina.

It had everything, bad information, upset relatives, idiot reporters blowing off about something they know jack about and of course the inevitable desire to lynch some guy looking like a deer in the headlights.


This is coal country around here and has been for many years. The road I live on used to be called Iron Mountain Road because years ago they mined iron ore here.

I have known people who worked in mines and I have known people who had relatives who died in the mines. Even though most of the mining around here now is above ground, a coal miner is a coal miner and the work is dangerous and hard.

This is a tragedy and it seems like a combination of loud mouth reporters and cell phones and upset management helped make it worse...but you know what? I am tired of these people with their fancy equipment descending en masse on misfortune like a vulture on road kill and then after they make a bad situation worse they just look for some poor sap to blame it on.



gumshoe1 said...

we still need news.
we still need reporting.

feel free to disagree with me,
but we've never needed mawkish ghouls.

terrye,i have to agree
with your comments...

truepeers no doubt has
some interesting comments to add
to this topic.

the crowd that often seems most to
want to discount the possiblity of "Truth", has yet to turn the camera around and examine the element of pathos they add to *every* tragedy,
including the inability to absorb tragedy with something resembling dignity.

that scheduled "demonstration"
(public assination of Iraqi election workers on a Baghdad street)
that wretchard and lgf fisked
last year leaps immediately to mind.

truepeers said...

I'm always fascinated by how the media plays coal mining and fishing/marine disasters. They get much more attention than other catastrophes. Not only are such events obviously dramatic, but I think they get the attention because they remind us of the dramas that were central to earlier generations.

So the media goes in, with memory of earlier mine disasters, and perhaps even more than usual they have the idea of the script events must follow in their heads. And boy, they can't wait for that moment when the word comes from below. When the families realize how they've been played, it must just add to the devastation.

I just don't know how the parasites justify to themselves their hysterical manipulating of people. Clearly they have to sell themselves on old myths just as much as they peddle their dirty old rituals to the rest of us. And Gumshoe, that's what I'd dwell on: how we sometimes have to free ourselves from old myths and rituals, even as many people obviously wish to maintain their attachments to them.

Eric Blair said...

Ghouls. that's a good term. The press in situations like this are like some sort of hideous psychic vampire, sucking up people's emotions.

I imagine those news crews have forgotten about it already.

markg8 said...

Well I'd say 12 people dying on the job in one place is a valid news story anywhere anytime. Just because it used to happen traditionally in a mine than say at a manufacturing plant doesn't lessen it's impact. That it happens in a small town where it's a monumental tragedy makes it an even more compelling story. Add in the rescue efforts and the vigil and it's ready made for the 24 hours news cycle.

Having said that the news organizations reported what they heard. According to a Fox News reporter I heard on Hannity's radio show the mining company informed the families in the church and church bells started ringing all over town as everybody exclaimed "they're alive!". There isn't an editor in the country who wouldn't put that kind of good news on the frontpage.

So who's at fault? According to
Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News, says there's a different culprit. From Political Animal:

"First, the mine owners did nothing to correct the misinformation for three hours, a mistake they admit. However, I also know that in past accidents, the press office of the Mine Safety and Health Agency has played a significant, and sometimes exclusive role, in successfully communicating with the families and media, allowing the company to deal with the crisis.

In this case, MSHA sent down Dirk Fillpot from Labor Dept. headquarters. Although Fillpot is not to blame for the horrific miscommunication that led families to believe for three hours that their loved-ones were alive, he has absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters, unlike two highly qualified and seasoned press people — Rodney Brown and Amy Louviere — who sat back at MSHA headquarters in Arlington twiddling their thumbs. And who was in charge at headquarters? Suzy Bohnert — another person with absolutely no experience in dealing with mine disasters and the confusion that the situation brings, and who in fact, has given out incorrect information in the past due to her lack of knowledge of MSHA policies and past practices.

I cannot imagine that Amy or Rodney would have let this incorrect information go unanswered for so long. In the past, MSHA has stepped up to the plate when the company failed in communications during past disasters. It's time for the agency to recognize its role in this media and family nightmare."

This is what happens when you put political hacks in government jobs. We saw it in Katrina and we see it here. It makes for lousy government.