Lag Time In The Race To Know

On March 11, 2011 Japan experienced a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 and then followed by a tsunami. Now they are experiencing worries of radiation poisoning from damaged nuclear reactors.

So why is it that I, an avid newspaper reader and conscious news consumer was not aware of this event right away? Where was the instant coverage? Well…

Print and broadcast media, has been downsizing their fleet of foreign correspondents in order to survive during this economic downturn. Many news outlets are feeling the negative effects of their decision to downsize. Many are relatively short-staffed in Asia, so when this catastrophic event happened there were few reports from correspondents in the region. Many outlets had to rely on technology to get the information the needed to report on the event. Ironic that technology is seen as a key player in the disruption and erosion of traditional media and during this it was the thing that saved them. Outlets had to rely on interviews via Skype with American workers and tourists in Tokyo.

Many networks were behind in sending out their top reporters. About eight hours after the quake, only one of the three network morning shows in the United States, “The Early Show” on CBS, had a live report from a journalist in Japan. Of the United States networks, CNN has a bureau of six people located in Tokyo so they were able to show on-scene footage of the destructions during and after the disasters.

With the lag time in U.S. coverage many people were searching for alternative news sources. They flocked to NHK World English, Al Jazeera English, BBC News and even social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s a great to know that people will go out there and search for news, they don’t just wait for the media to tell them.