Media coverage of the great TN flood of 2010

While the local media outlets were on top of things, the national media seemed to respond with a big “meh.”  Where was the obsessive coverage that seems to be the standard for natural disasters (or any story really) in recent years?  Where was the outcry to help those who lost their homes and businesses?

We literally had the most rainfall recorded in Middle TN in a 48 hour period in recorded history.  In other words, we have never had anything of this magnitude since they started keeping records of weather.  The damage estimates are in the billions, and they can’t even really get a good grasp of how bad things really are until the waters recede back to somewhat normal levels.  This is probably the single biggest disaster this state has ever experienced as far as property and infrastructure damage is concerned.

Homes destroyed.  Businesses destroyed.  Telecommunications infrastructure in shambles.  Massive power outages.  Travel to and from many areas nearly impossible.  Some areas with no safe drinking water.  The entire middle TN region basically crippled, brought to its knees.  Guess what, it gets less total national media coverage over the entire weekend of the event than a cheating golfer gets in one single news day.  Who do we have to screw around here to get some attention? 😉

Why does none of this seem newsworthy?  I think three major factors contribute to the lack of interest.

1.)  A lack of looting, robbery, and other criminal behaviors.  I have not heard a single report yet of any of the crimes of opportunity that you usually hear about in urban areas when they are faced with a disaster.  There may have been some that we don’t know about yet, but it appears that there is nothing going on anywhere near the scale of what happened in New Orleans.  There also have been no reports of rape and assault in shelters that seemed to be a regular occurrence there.  I guess a lack of opportunistic human trash makes us a little boring.

2.)  We take care of our own.  Tennessee has a proud history of citizens giving their all to help those in need.  We are, after all, the Volunteer state.  While many were saved by official rescue personnel (who do a damn fine job), there were countless average Joe types out there just helping anyone in need.  State and local emergency services departments just don’t have the manpower to handle something of this magnitude.  Do we cry and moan about it? Nope, we just dust ourselves off and reach out a helping hand and do the best we can for those in need around us.  Whether it’s a warm dry place to stay for the night, a bass-boat rescue, or just checking on everyone and making sure they’re OK, we come together in times of crisis and do what needs to be done.  Sure, there are some bad seeds out there, our community is far from perfect, but the vast majority of people come through when it counts.

3.)  No political target to smear.  The story about Katrina, in the end, wound up being a blame game.  “Oh look at those poor people and how <insert politician name here> has failed them, boo hoo hoo.”  When we don’t have useless leeches whining about how “the guvment ain’t helpin dem like dey shud”, and then sitting around on their lazy asses waiting for someone to take care of them, it makes it harder to politicize.  This is mostly a side effect of the second point.  Do we need federal/state help cleaning this mess up and getting things back on track?  Sure we do.  Are we going to just sit around and wait for them to fix it for us?  Hell no, that’s not the way we do things.

In the end, we will recover, ignored or not.  It’s just not in our blood as a community to lay down and wait for someone else to fix it.  Though the events of these past few days have been very tragic, and the national media doesn’t seem interested in them, the way people have been taking care of friends, family, and even strangers makes me more proud than ever to be a Tennessean.

Be safe folks.

Isaac

7 thoughts on “Media coverage of the great TN flood of 2010”

  1. Unknown Unknown

    Isaac
    Welcome to the “”REAL REPUBLICAN WORLD””. The only thing that matters is anything that makes money for the government,ie. (Gaylord, The Arena, downtown Nashville and the Rich in Bellvue and Franklin) Facts about devestation in these areas WAS INDEED reported on CNN,Fox, MSNBC, simply because that is all that was fed to them thru the local REPUBLICAN news channels. All our illustrious senators(alexander, corker) wanted to talk about were these areas. Very little locally was reported about Centerville, Clarksville, Hendersonville,Goodlettsville, or Ashland City. Wonder why??? No rich REPUBLICANS!!!! What did Jim Cooper talk about? He very thourghly covered ALL OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE not just a few areas that helped put him in office
    Just as in New Orleans with Katrina. What did you hear about the devestation of the poor.
    So as I started off with Welcome to the “”REAL REPUBLICAN WORLD””.

    1. Unknown Unknown

      Randy,

      While it is often complained that Fox is right leaning, CNN and MSNBC definitely slant left.

      As far as which areas were covered by local news and what areas the gov’t officials were focusing on, Bellevue, Franklin, and Riverfront in Nashville were the hardest hit areas. There were more deaths in Bellevue than in any other part of the state. Also, unless you consider me to be rich (statistically I’m at the national average), I don’t really think you can consider Bellevue some exclusive rich community. Of course they are going to cover the famous landmarks in Nashville, they hold a place in the hearts of many, and are recognizable by anyone who knows anything about middle TN. They are the things that people come here to see from hundreds and thousands of miles away. That said, at the local level there was coverage of the outlying areas, though it wasn’t as heavily covered. They covered the partial evac of Ashland City due to the need to open the dam’s flood gates in particular, that’s how I found out about it. They covered Clarksville, one of the local networks (I forget which one I was watching) had someone on the ground up there showing the devastation. As far as Hickman Co. goes, they mentioned the massive power outages, but there wasn’t much on the ground reporting. Of course since nobody from Nashville could even hope to make it to Hickman at the time I don’t see much they could report on unless people were calling in. Unfortunately phone lines were pretty badly screwed up across the mid state (most of Bellevue’s land lines are still down, I imagine it’s the same elsewhere), so that could explain a lack there.

      I have no idea where you’re coming from on Katrina, all they talked about was the people trapped there. You couldn’t go 5 minutes without seeing or hearing about them on the 24hr news channels, or how the administration had screwed up the FEMA response.

  2. Unknown Unknown

    Hardest hit??? Ask the people in Kungston springs, Ashland City and worst hit of all in middle tennessee,,,Centerville. Guess you didn’t hear about them. Wonder why?
    As far as Katrina, yes coverage was of poor that were rendered homeless, and many are still homeless.
    Wonder where all those MILLIONS went that was to help in New Orleons?????

  3. Unknown Unknown

    I’ll ignore the fact for the moment that I did hear several stories about Ashland City. How many deaths in Kingston Springs and Ashland City? How many homes destroyed? How much damage in dollars? Those are the numbers that I would use to quantify the severity of damage. I’m not saying they weren’t hit hard, but the population density isn’t high enough in either of those areas for the numbers to come close to the more densely populated areas.

    I heard about Centerville on the news. No power and cut off from the rest of the world as far as the roads go, the national guard is delivering food and water by helicopter. I’m not sure what more you expect them to report about Centerville. It is way out in the middle of nowhere and they don’t have reporters on the ground there, and from what I hear from people who live around there they couldn’t even get there if they wanted to.

    Anyone from New Orleans who hasn’t managed to pick their life back up by now only has themselves to blame. The government’s job is to help people through the worst of it, not put their life back exactly like it was or support them for the rest of their lives. Millions of dollars only goes so far when it’s spread out upon hundreds of thousands of people and infrastructure repair. I know you, you wouldn’t still be sitting on your ass waiting for someone to fix your life for you, your pride (the good kind) would never allow it. That’s one of the things that I respect about you. Why do you accept that behavior so readily in others?

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