- CNN's Aaron Brown boasted about how great CNN's tsunami coverage was... thanks to the existence of CNN International, which has people in place around the world, unlike the other U.S. TV nets. (Unfortunately, you can't see CNNI in the U.S., which I always thought was a tragedy.)
- That said, people from aid agencies and watchdog organizations had a number of criticisms of how the media handled the story, including:
- "the media didn't really get going on the story until the second day – after the biggest loss of life – because it didn't really understand what happened"
- "there were many inaccuracies and alarmism about the dangers of epidemics that never occurred."
- "the media coverage made it seem as if the international and US relief effort was the most important when in fact local agencies were often quicker off the mark and more impactful."
- "the saturation coverage of the Tsunami in Asia has to be contrasted with the lack of coverage of other serious humanitarian disasters like the bloodletting in Congo, or Uganda, or Malaria that rates no coverage and affects as many or more people."
- "there is a "silent tsunami" or word poverty and diseases like malaria that does not exist in the US media. The rest of the world covers these crises for the world's majority, but the US media is uninformed and indifferent.
Schechter then describes Aaron Brown's reaction:
Aaron Brown listened to all this but did not engage. He explained the problem not as a journalist out to inform but as a media personality committed to maximizing audience size.
"I deal with a "harsh reality," he said defensively. "I know eating Brussels sprouts is good for you, but I have to offer a more balanced meal and throw in some chocolate." The point: he will lose the audience if he gets into too much depth or human suffering. "
TV is a business" was the ultimate excuse. He seemed to squirm around the points as if to say,what do you want me to do guys, I work in commercial television.
I don't want to knock Brown. He was just voicing the market logic of commercial TV without perhaps realizing that it is precisely that logic that is driving so many viewers away from the tube He recognizes that he is a prisoner of the dumbed down cable environment that companies like CNN created .
This is exactly why I left CNN. I was sick of being a prisoner of the dumbed down cable environment.