Thursday, May 22, 2008

The media coverage and the compassion fatigue

The media coverage of the Si Chuan earthquake has been, for the most part, excellent. It was said that was due in part to the increased transparent of the government. The most exposure though, was in press and on-line, rather than on TV - at least from what I've seen. NPR did some splendid cover also, I've heard.

I'm not sure how the difference in media affected the donation. For me, the printing press coverage had the distinctive advantage of not only covering the "news" but also paying more attention to the "stories", which was more detailed in description than average Chinese news coverage.

According to released numbers so far, donation from the U.S. is estimated to be in the above $30 millions range. It is a far cry from the Tsunami response, which had Mr Bush and many prominent celebrities go on TV pleading pledge and generate about $1.3B. At least, Aids to China far exceeded that to Burma, which adds up to $12.1m so far, partly due to large number of Chinese diaspora in the U.S. in addition to the transparency issue.

A.P. contributed the relatively small response to compassion fatigue. However, I think other explanations merit consideration also: #. American Economy is in a slump. #. Election primary takes away people's attention. #. Many Americans think Chinese government, if not people, is now rich and should be able to handle it on their own. After all, the U.S. owes more than a trillion to the Chinese government. #. Some people just don't like or care Chinese government or in extension people much.

Whichever is the reason, or a combination of some, is anybody's guess. You can draw it on your own.

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