When disasters hit, news crews show up with reporters, photographers and satellite trucks. They report stories about human suffering and destruction, always with a predictable, formulaic approach. Then, after a few days, they move on to the next disaster du jour. For them, the story is over.
Natural disasters ravaged the Northeast region of the United States in 2011. Hurricane Irene not only wiped out roads, but severely damaged towns from New Jersey to Vermont. A freak Halloween snowstorm caused even more damage.
When the media stops its coverage of a disaster, it often creates a false impression that the suffering, damage and need for assistance has passed, that life is back to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As I write this, there are towns in New England still struggling to rebuild themselves. The fact that there is no longer media attention doesn’t help local and state officials make a case for assistance. The disaster is out of the media, and therefore out of the public’s mind. How can officials continue to secure much-needed help without sustained media coverage and awareness?
My counsel to such communities is this: Report your own news. Keep your story alive.