Multimedia Coverage of Japan’s Earthquake

Posted: March 21, 2011 by braillebone in #9 Japan

Since we examined the New York Times’ use of simplistic yet information-packed video broadcast and questioned the validity of the high-production 6 o’clock news hour, I have been getting my Japan coverage from the Times online. This page features a wall of short two minute videos ranging from heartbreaking personal stories to the impacts on U.S. policy. As discussed in class, these videos are not of professional quality and are written more in print style than for television from what I’ve observed, but they are loaded with information, also like a print story.

They also use high quality (172 of which are linked here) photos as stand-alones and accompanying stories. The photos are indicating that journalists are becoming more able to shoot closer to the destruction and to the people so adversely affected by it.

In addition to this, they’ve taken to using sophisticated and interactive graphics like this one on the hazards of storing spent fuel from a nuclear reactor. For example, this one is a six-part graphic that explains what spent fuel is, why it can be dangerous, and how it can become dangerous. This kind of analysis is so valuable because of the overwhelming amount of information flooding in that is often conflicting and hard to digest. It allows an extremely complex situation to be simplified just enough to be made sense of efficiently and easily.

For my initial earthquake news intake, I streamed live feed from the BBC website which was helpful at first, but after about an hour I tired of it because it was extended Skype accounts from people who hadn’t even witnessed anything and had only heard about it. I understand of course that sometimes at the start of a crisis it’s tough to locate any really credible sources for lack of communication or transportation. The live feed was still a great way to become immediately updated while seeing the devastation with my own eyes as it was happening. The BBC news site also has videos and graphics like the New York Times.

As far as social media goes, I have been receiving consistent updates in my Facebook and Twitter news feeds from NPR and the Globe and Mail. Today, for example, my Facebook feed linked to an article from NPR about the fears surrounding nuclear radiation and its absorption into cow’s milk, saying the radioactivity was only a danger after 58,000 glasses.


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