>The Japan Earthquake

>Last Friday, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit Japan. And following the tremor a devastating Tsunami wave hit the coast causing widespread destruction and loss of life.

But you knew all that; there’s no escaping news of the tragedy. This morning’s airwaves are filled with the latest details: another explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power station; two thousand bodies washed ashore on the north coast; widespread water, food and fuel shortages. Thanks to satellite communication, shared broadcasting facilities and resident reporters, we’ve been kept up-to-date with events as they happen. What need, then, for the BBC (and, for all I know, other UK broadcasters) to spend the weekend flying James Naughtie of the Today programme out to Sendai – one of the worst-hit cities – as well as adding Nick Ravenscroft, Andrew Hosken and a host of other reporters to the mix? I assume these people won’t be starving while they’re out there. And I assume they’ll be using some of that scarce fuel for their vehicles, to say nothing of precious electricity supplies that the Japanese national grid is having to ration to the rest of the nation.

It’s the same whenever disaster strikes. Not content with letting the resident journalists tell the story, we have to have a ‘live’ BBC News anchor presenting the programme from the latest trouble spot, as if that’s what it takes to tell the story. Which, of course, is nonsense. We’re kept perfectly well informed without the reckless policy of sending out the ‘heavies’ to report live from the scene. Worse, at a time when the people of Japan need all the help they can get, when the Today programme website itself tells us that, ‘Japan is struggling to cope with the devastation caused by Friday’s earthquake and resulting tsunami,’ and when its government is facing the biggest national emergency since World War 2, I don’t want to be paying (via the license fee) to fly Jim Naughtie – or anyone else – out there to use up some of their precious resources of fuel and food. Of course the story needs telling, the broadcasters will say. But they were doing that anyway, and instantly, without the help of the heavies.

The irony is that half of Jim Naughtie’s job this morning has been announcing – live, on the line from Japan – items that have nothing to do with the earthquake or anything connected to it. And the ultimate demonstration of this foolishness was when he interviewed – from Sendai – the Japanese ambassador to Britain who was, of course, in London. Which is where Jim should’ve been.

Next time, stay at home, Jim. And give the money that you’ll save to the Japanese Shelter Box Appeal.

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22 thoughts on “>The Japan Earthquake

  1. bekimarie says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. bekimarie says:

    >Here here, well said!Beki

  3. >I was shouting this at the television this weekend as news presenters were taking up valuable resources and locals' time, to go wandering around the debris, pointing out crushed cars and houses.To be honest, it annoys me when presenters stand outside the door of 10 Downing Street to talk to camera, but this wasteful, unnecessary practice just beggars belief.

  4. The Dotterel says:

    >Me too Trish, me too. I also find myself resentful at being patronised by a news editor who thinks unless I see the Palace of Westminster over someone's shoulder I won't understand what they're saying.

  5. Polly says:

    >Couldn't agree more, its already a tragedy, we don't need our "celebrity" news readers/reporters reiterating the fact.

  6. The Dotterel says:

    >I'm beginning to think some of it is only done for the broadcaster's benefit, Polly. Which makes it more than a tragedy.

  7. Scarlet Blue says:

    >Well said, Mr Dotts.I'm horrified by the footage coming in. I wish that wouldn't show it in a loop.Sx

  8. kcm says:

    >Absolutely agree! Well said.

  9. The Dotterel says:

    >It's awful, isn't it Scarlet? But no matter how horrific, at least the footage is likely to have been taken by the local media or even just locals rather than superannuated be-suited BBC bonzos.Thanks KCM.

  10. lunarossa says:

    >Well said, Tim. Some of the broadcasters seem almost to rejoice when talking about these terrible tragedies. That not so hidden smile coming through when passing from the earthquake to the rugby news…Awful. Ciao. A.PS. Thanks for this link, btw.

  11. The Dotterel says:

    >No problem Antonella. Hope it proved useful. And thanks for commenting and stating what I shied away from – that some of these broadcasters really glory in other people's tragedy.

  12. Sue Cook says:

    >Completely agree with you Tim and all the comments above. Sheer posturing to send out UK broadcasters who only get in the way anyway. As you say – how much better and more constructive would it be to donate the money to http://www.justgiving.com/shelterbox-Japan.

  13. The Dotterel says:

    >Thanks, Sue. So many people seem to object to this kind of showboating, it makes me wonder who the news editors think they're serving. Of course, the cynic might suggest themselves and their big budgets… and who knows?

  14. >Great post, I hope the beeb are listening (all news outlets are listening)

  15. Hayley says:

    >Well said! So very true. It fustrates me when you see these well fed reporters etc who are probably staying in the surviving hilton being waited on hand and foot when they are reporting about people who have lost everything. Hypocritical much.

  16. The Dotterel says:

    >Me too, L, me too.Thanks Hayley. Of course, some people might say at least they're out there spending money, helping refloat the economy etc. But I'm sure there are far better things they could be doing with the money.

  17. >very well put…..that is exactly what I thought……what on earth does he think he's doing there and what good is served by voyeristically viewing endless reels of earthquake porn??

  18. Scarlet Blue says:

    >On BBC News 24 last night, they had a text caption flash up in red which read 'Quake and Nuke'. I thought this was disgraceful – I don't even think the Sun has come up with this headline.Sx

  19. The Dotterel says:

    >That's revealing isn't it Scarlett? Earthquake porn indeed, as you say Young at Heart.

  20. >Couldn't agree more – I find it bizarre that news editors think a story like this is somehow more compelling to me because it's Jim Naughtie. I can sometimes understand sending a specialist to a specific region because of their knowledge or contacts, but in general – and particularly for a story like this – it seems a senseless waste.

  21. The Dotterel says:

    >Couldn't agree more, Sally. Where there's a real need then sending people out to report from disaster zones is part of responsible broadcasting. But sending Jim Naughtie (who's still there, incidentally) or George Alagiah seems gratuitous.

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