Friday, May 07, 2010

The Nashville Flood

It’s been a busy week in the news. Used SUV bombers. Fat fingered brokers. Oil spills. Greeks lighting up more than a Saganaki cheese. And, of course British “Hung” Parliaments.

And does it not reveal something about our national self-esteem issues that Canadians feel they’re saddled with a “minority” government while the British refer to the same thing as being “Hung”?

Anyway, with all that going on, you can be forgiven for missing what happened in Nashville.


You also could’ve missed it because it barely made the news. I’ll never fully understand how news editors prioritize what goes on in the world for an evening newscast.

Sometimes it’s your basic “If it bleeds, it leads”. Sometimes it’s a story they know the other networks don’t have, or a spin that will appeal to their core demographic.

Over at the CBC, it probably doesn’t get much better than: “At the end of the day: Rahim Jaffer, Ms. Guergis - Cocaine? Hookers?” --- one of their little promotional gems this week.

But back to Nashville, where the Cumberland River overflowed its banks taking several lives as it flooded a thoroughly modern city and caused Billions of dollars in damage. It was a disaster of biblical proportions.

Yet according to those who count such things, it only resulted in 15 minutes of national news coverage on TV network news services.

Oh, CNN and Fox were there on a semi-regular basis. But even they had other, more pressing priorities. One of the largest natural disasters in American history was happening --- but unless you lived in Nashville, you would never have known.

Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer people are getting their news from television and harbor a growing mistrust of the service they are provided?

On Monday a “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll (and doesn’t those two teaming up speak volumes on current journalistic priorities) revealed that only 13% of those surveyed place great trust in broadcast network news. Only 8% found the NY Times most reliable.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” tied at 4%.

And maybe that tie helps to explain the regularly careening stock market.

But overall, it isn’t hard to understand why people feel the way they do.

More and more, it seems that everybody bringing you the news has an agenda of some sort that’s more important than recounting what actually happened that day. It might be a political agenda that spins a story. It might be a profit driven approach, ignoring anything that shines a harsh light on an advertiser. Sometimes somebody’s throwing as much “scare factor” crap at the wall as they can to frighten an audience into staying tuned.

In Toronto, we have a network called CP24 which would’ve killed for the Nashville Flood. These guys can ruin the sunniest summer day with warnings of the killer thunderstorms which “could be” forming unseen over the lake. To them an inch of snow is a sure sign that frogs and locusts are on the horizon.

In the process, they seem to forget that with such Chicken Little nonsense going on, it’s impossible to take anything else they tell you seriously.

Yet, the Nashville flood had everything that seems to take priority when it comes to broadcast news. Like the wall-to-wall coverage of California wildfires, celebrity homes were threatened. Like Hurricane Katrina, national landmarks were devastated. And as in any natural disaster, there were awesome images of nature on a rampage and the requisite environmental concerns.

In the “make it personal” and “scare the bejesus outta them” categories, people literally drowned in the middle of freeway traffic.

Still --- nothin’…

Somehow what was going on in Nashville just wasn’t “sexy” enough to make the nightly news. And maybe that’s because the people there just stepped up and handled it. No drama queens. No politicians grand-standing. Nobody turning disaster into an opportunity to self-promote or show boat.

Nashville just handled it.

That said, the damage is wide-spread and overwhelming. And they’ll need whatever help anyone else can spare to make things right again.

I have no doubt the Country Music community will step up along with the other industries that make Nashville such a special place. But if you can help in any way, please go here and make a contribution. It ain’t Haiti, but good people are still hurting.

Here’s a sample of what the people who purport to bring you the news failed to cover. It was put together by one of those indomitable souls who live in Nashville and knows you only make things better by keeping your head up, being brave and helping each other…

And maybe not getting your world view from television.


Anonymous said...

Yep, 21 people dead, and nary a peep. A few seagulls dead, and front line MegaHeadlines.

But hey, whats a few dead rednecks to the latte-sipping intelligensia?

BTW, this spill doesn't even come within an entire decimal point of being "as bad as the Exxon Valdez".

The White Wolf said...

I gotta friend in Nashville who tuned-me in to what's happening. Crazy.

I also follow a site that has posted the following link to contribute through novel writers' auction-like stuff: