Tracking the Worst Storm Ever

Let me be honest: This was going to be a rant about how cutbacks in international coverage by the mass media in the United States had left folks on this side of the Pacific Ocean under-informed about Typhoon Haiyan. The source of my anger (really) was turning on The Weather Channel last night before going to bed, and finding yet another trivial filler program. Of course, at that time, Haiyan was still just a threat to the Philippines (if a massive one), or perhaps making landfall. Not much news yet.

Speaking of massive, if you haven’t seen pictures of the storm, here’s one that should amaze you, Haiyan from orbit (by way of the Guardian):

Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan from orbiting satellites

This morning, I woke up to this report from NPR’s Morning Edition, but was too groggy to take any of the information in. At this point, the onslaught had definitely begun, but reporters belonged in safer locations. One can only imagine what it would be like trying to stand up in front of a camera with wind gusts approaching 200 miles per hour!

During the day, I followed The Guardian’s rolling coverage when not doing real work (their Minute-by-Minute page is terrific for following any big UK or global story, by the way. You’ll find soccer and cricket matches too.). I usually check the BBC on my iPod for quick updates, too, but they didn’t seem to have much information.

When I got home from work is when I started feeling foolish about my initial coverage assessment. All the old network newscasts opened with the storm, with amazing and disturbing video. A scan of all my iPod news apps brought me largely up to date (though I still think it’s a little weird that the PBS Newshour partners with ITN in Britain for international stories, rather than its fellow public broadcaster, the BBC). Though I haven’t checked yet, I imagine The Weather Channel is doing a better job than last night too.

What remains true is that, unless there is a direct impact on the US, TV journalists usually don’t have “boots on the ground” anymore. I hope that changes soon.

How do you get your international news? How important to you is learning about what happens outside of North America? Do you miss your favorite foreign correspondent?

Feel free to post information on Haiyan relief too.


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