The planned rescue of 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months in northern Chile will undoubtedly dominate the world’s news media in the coming hours. The New York Times reports more than 1,400 journalists are at the mine site. Time Magazine describes it as a “media circus.”
Why does such a story command media attention?
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a study in 2007 analyzing two decades of American news preferences. In a list of broad news categories including conflict, politics and money, disaster news ranked first:
“The index reveals that Disaster News -- reports about catastrophes, man-made or natural -- garners the greatest interest.”
The study found such stories simply engross audiences – in part because “the outcome remains suspended in doubt.”
The international mix of reporters in Chile covering the mine rescue suggests Americans are not alone in their interest in disaster stories. So too does the global mix of comments posted beneath the latest VOA news story. They’re worth reading.