i Editor's Letter: News about Hurricane Sandy


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The Independent Online


Not since being abroad during the London riots, desperately seeking news of what was going on in Croydon, has my quest for local news (about Hurricane Sandy) taken me across the gamut of news outlets, from old-time news providers to local NYC websites, the latter severely hampered by power outages.

Again, Twitter came to the fore. But, as before, its drawback is: can one really trust the tweeters? Perhaps, the same could be said of traditional outlets.

The American media, like the authorities, have a vested interest in making what may happen seem as dramatic as possible in advance. They both want us to pay attention. This did not entirely work with the locals. In some parts of the mandatory Zone A evacuation areas 80 per cent of local residents ignored the call to flee. Unlike in areas of the third world afflicted by natural disaster, they stayed not because they lacked the means to escape but because they had the means to stay (a secure roof, buying in supplies …) coupled with a first-world arrogance that they know better than the authorities.

Some readers lamented that there was more coverage of Sandy striking the USA with 'X' deaths than there was of Sandy striking Cuba and Jamaica with 'X plus' deaths. This is, of course, true. It's down to a combination of journalistic resource, and the estimated (by editors) largest potential audience interest levels. The belief is that more people reading in the UK have a link to NYC and the eastern seaboard of the USA than to Cuba and Jamaica. As ever, you will tell us if you believe this to be true.

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