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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Did the media over-report the earthquake?

August 24, 2011

STATE OF THE MEDIA: TV news loves weather stories. Earthquakes might not be weather, but they’re still catnip to news organizations, particularly when they occur in places — Rhode Island, say, New York City and DC– that doesn’t normally experience them. When safety concerns cause people to leave government buildings and downtown offices, that qualifies as news. But earthquake-accustomed Left Coasters are still laughing at us. If there’s a takeaway here, perhaps it’s the media tendency to focus on stories that are somewhat dramatic, if less than earth-shaking, rather than chronic situations with a bigger toll. (But animals’ ability to foretell earthquakes is pretty cool.)

GOOGLE: Yeah, it’s going to be running the world one day, but Google is paying $500 million in a settlement with the feds, one of the largest settlements in US history.

MEDIA I: Stephen Beale is leaving GoLocalRI.

MEDIA II: Jim Romenesko might not be a household name, but his Poytner Institute Web site has been a must-read for media-types ever since it launched.  I remain grateful for how it offered a broader platform for my more frequent media reportage when I was at the Phoenix, and wish him well with his semi-retirement.

CHAFEE: The guv gets a win, for now, with Toray Plastics’ expansion. And he fires back at Senator Edward O’Neill for criticizing his effort to shield Jason Pleau from the death penalty.

BUY IN RI: Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says the purchase of a property at Hoxsie Four Corners sets a per-square-foot price record for Rhode Island.

LIBYA: The conflict there set US gas prices rising, and restarting Libyan exports won’t be easy, reports NPR.

GETTING THE GIST: WRNI’s Elisabeth Harrison interviews Deborah Gist on the one-year anniversary of Race to the Top.

TRUTH SQUAD: Ted Nesi vs. PolitiFact.

BIRTHDAY: Joee Lindbeck.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2011 8:50 pm

    I think media told the wrong story. And the snark on Twitter is lucky we didn’t learn that it was worse at the epicenter, which it took a while for us to fully get reports from.

    The local stories about everyone who was sitting in their chair and felt it shake and thought they might be drunk were unbelievably painful. Then, there weren’t enough stories about the actual damage in DC and NoVA.

    The story that should have been told though was preparedness. Yes, this is rare, but emergency preparedness, be it earthquake or hurricane or blizzard or what-have-you is important. Tell that story while it is at the front of people’s minds.

    Rachel Maddow also did a great piece at the front of her show hammering away again at infrastructure. A nuclear plant was forced to shut down yesterday and did lose the power that supplied energy for its cooling systems. An only slightly bigger earthquake would have taken down bridges and other infrastructure as well.

  2. August 24, 2011 9:07 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jef.

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