Feb 3, 2011

iPhones in hand, they rushed to the scene of Yasi devastation

TV coverage of cyclone Yasi became the Race for Tully this morning as it slowly dawned on waking Queensland and Australia that the community was one of the worst hit overnight. The ABC was left on the starting block.

Andrew Dodd

Media lecturer and journalist

TV coverage of cyclone Yasi became the Race for Tully this morning as it slowly dawned on waking Queensland and Australia that the community was one of the worst hit overnight.

And in that race the commercial networks sped ahead of the ABC which seemed to give up on the challenge by focussing on events on the other side of the world rather than on one of the biggest cyclones in recorded Australian history.

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29 thoughts on “iPhones in hand, they rushed to the scene of Yasi devastation

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Give it two weeks tops and the rest of the country will start the same whine about the price of bananas as they did after Larry and the pictures show much greater destruction of the banana plantations this time around.

  2. SusieQ

    Although I have not seen much of the coverage so far today, I can agree with the general view of this article – it is such a disappointment that the ABC’s 24 hour station is often behind the times when things are happening – lost count of the number of times I’ve turned onto 24 to catch a breaking story, only to see a repeat of Australian Story or similar. Its a shame that an organisation that has so much coverage throughout the country and so many journalists can seem to be ‘asleep at the wheel’ at times.

  3. LisaCrago

    good story but you make no mention of RADIO coverage…last time I looked Radio was still considered ‘media’. Last night local ABC talkback radio was running hot with live reports from those being directly hit. Although Kelly the midnight to 5 am presenter was most inappropriately chipper and laughing on air saying things to people who were in the eye of the storm like ‘hello there, how are you are you gooooood’ ?!? wtf these people were having their motherducking roofs torn off sitting in the eye of a cyclone waiting to be whipped even harder by its tail. Who is this woman? was she on drugs or something? Sure just a little local backwater abc radio talkback but THE ONLY voice that these people had and it was streaming all round the world. The other mention just has to go the the crew at the Cairns Post bunkering down in the Sebal hotel after evacing their offices who kept trying to answer questions using twitter all night. Well Done. True community service, unlike the big TV stations.

  4. Liz45

    I don’t know! I watched the ABC last night; I listened to ABC RAdio, there were interviews with people in the affected areas. Frankly, I thought the commercial channels were being goulish? All the info they were giving, supposedly to those affected wasn’t much good, as some/lots had lost power at about 9-10 pm. They were listening to ABC Radio and some rang in to ABC’s ‘Nightlife’? I don’t need to watch every gruelling bit of heartbreaking film to care about those people.

    It’s been my experience with the commercial channels, that they take advantage of everyones’ misery just to get some footage about human misery. I’m sure, that on occasions they just get in the damn road! The police and SES were battened down – but the commercial channels – why were they taking up space in ‘cyclone proof’ motels/hotels while many residents were in car parks or overcroweded shopping malls?

    In short, the words ‘over kill’ spring to mind! They’ll also be pushing whatever line Abbott wants to push to make political mileage out of. Watch this space! Their concern for Queenslanders will taper off – just like it did with the floods. They’ll push the conservative barrow! I find them obscene!

  5. Scott

    It’s a question of focus. The commercial free to air channels depend on large amounts of viewers to justify advertising revenue used to bankroll their operations and keep shareholders happy. Domestic news sells better than foreign news, hence the FTA focus (and talent) in producing quality, innovative coverage and distribution of domestic news (Channel 7 has become the master of the human interest story). ABC have no need to justify themselves to shareholders and are funded by the taxpayer. Hence they can stay in their ivory tower and have no need to “slum it” covering domestic issues. The only area ABC still leads in is analysis (Lateline rocks), but even that will go if they aren’t careful.

  6. SusieQ

    Can I just add to my earlier comments that last night I listened (online) to ABC far north and the coverage was excellent – warnings, taking calls from those affected, regular updates etc etc. Good work all round.

  7. bereasonable

    I find the media race to find the most devastating, destructive images and stories soul-less.

  8. paddy

    [“Bush and Obama may have had a war on terror, but here in Queensland we’ve got a war on nature.”]
    Quote of the day??!!!!
    Bloody hell Andrew, what have they been putting in your bananas?
    That sounds more like the Wankley winner to me.

  9. LisaCrago

    What? NO ONE covers (or slum it as you say Mr Scott) domestic issues on a local or using digital streaming on an international level like the ABC…especially the radio broadcasts. When you have no power and are needing ‘analysis’ in times of trouble who is right there with you and so NOT in an ivory tower? The A B fcking C.

  10. Liz45

    Do people remember during the horrific aftermath of the Victorian bushfires, when one of the journalists from the commercial channels told that poor demented young man that his whole family were dead – on AIR? Appalling! They hover like vultures to see who can be ‘there’ to see the worst of the misery?

    @SCOTT – I don’t think the ABC looks on these domestic stories as “slumming it”? After all, they’re the ones with the responsiblity of being the Official Emergency Response/Information organisation – and they do it very well – particularly via radio. TV isn’t much good without power – but people have a battery radio with them. Commercial channels? Money is their god, not the people?

    @BEREASONABLE – I agree! I turn off after a while – as it’s repeat after nauseous repeat, and why do they have to paraphrase what the Premier had to say during her media updates – immediately after it’s over? Drives me nuts!

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