Have We Heard Too Much About The Carnival Splendor?
A Google search for "Carnival Splendor" returns more than 6,000 articles from news organizations around the world. The phrase "cholera in Haiti" turns up fewer than 900 articles. Even some of the people aboard the stranded ship this week wondered if their story merited all the attention.
San Diegan Lee Murphy was aboard the powerless Carnival Splendor. She was a little surprised by the nearly blinding media spotlight.
“I said, 'well, gosh, there must not be much else going on in the world,'”
But there was a lot going on in the world this week – a cholera epidemic in Haiti, a volcano eruption in Indonesia and a $72 million budget shortfall here at home.
Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University, isn’t bothered by the extensive coverage of the crippled cruise liner. It’s what he calls a "didja" story.
A "didja" story is one “where people say to each other, 'didja hear about that cruise ship?'" he said. “One of the definitions of what news is if something is unusual. I wouldn’t call it an important story, but I would call it an interesting story.”
The important thing, he said, is to not completely abandon the important stories in favor of the interesting ones.
"The news media have this interesting dance that they have to do, which is a combination of stories that the public should know about and that the public wants to know about."
Murphy isn't sure the news media struck the right balance this week though.
"I'm sorry to see everything kind of glamorizing the difficulties," she said.