A woman crosses a street of rubble in Haiti.
Day after day, year after year, newspapers, daily news stations, radio stations and online news pages cover tragedies and disasters from around the world. The media’s job is to convey information in whatever way the media moguls deem most interesting or eye-catching–whatever will make the best story. Sometimes, this means showing intense and disturbing images of destruction, war, and violence. Some might say these images are unnecessary, but many others would argue that seeing the full picture is what keeps them the most connected to current events as well as the people who experience them first hand.
However, the media often times wildly exaggerates the truth. When a natural disaster occurs, a similar picture is painted in the media each time. Often times exaggerated information, images, and interviews are all repeated on a continuous loop. Such repetition can grow dull, and cause the viewer to become numb to the information. When a serious threat actually occurs, such as predictions for violent hurricanes and tornadoes, viewers take in the warnings and process them as they would process other information like it, which is why sometimes serious threats aren’t taken as seriously as they should be.
When the story is no longer new, and no longer interesting to viewers, the media will drop the story in question and move on to the next one. Even though the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and more recently the aftermath of the tornado that destroyed Joplin, Missouri, is still visible, the media chooses to not cover it because viewers have lost interest.
It is because of over-dramatized and under-covered tragedies in the media that viewers have a harder time understanding, assessing, and empathizing in moments of true disaster.