Hurricane Stan and Guatemala, We Hardly Heard About Ya
Travel Blog • Jim Benning • 10.14.05 | 12:24 PM ET
In his essay Why We Travel, Pico Iyer writes that we travel, in part, to “learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate.” I was reminded of that recently while traveling in Mexico. Aside from migration-related news, we in the U.S. see little coverage of life south of the border. But it seems that our newspapers don’t accommodate much news about Central America even when it involves a major disaster. That was brought into relief for some recently after Hurricane Stan hit Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The storm affected more than 3 million people and killed hundreds—perhaps thousands. Yet according to a survey of news coverage in 22 major U.S. newspapers from Oct. 7-10, only 10 stories about the disaster appeared. That, according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, is “shameful.” Granted, Stan had a lot to compete against, including the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. The trouble is, the lack of coverage is part of a pattern of neglect. And as the association points out, media coverage often leads to much-needed international aid.
Remarked the association’s president: “The loss of life due to catastrophic events is a tragedy no matter where it takes place. It usually prompts news coverage and immediate help, as was the case after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and just this past weekend, after an earthquake leveled parts of Pakistan. But what seems appalling is that the destruction of Hurricane Stan in Central America has been virtually ignored by the U.S. media.”
Poynter.org has more on what some call “charity fatigue.”