12 March 2011


As luck would have it, I'm teaching online this semester and have two students in Japan (both are fine), so I've been paying more than usually close attention to the reporting of the earthquake and tsunami. Although I'm all for American parochialism, I have to say I found the following annoying:
Taking Head: We now have reports of a fire at a Japanese nuclear power plant. Japanese tv reports that .... Now I'm told we have correspondent Stan Dintok at the Pentagon. Stan, earlier the Pentagon announced that all American servicemen in Japan have been accounted for. Any update on that?

Stan: Yes, the Pentagon has now confirmed that it earlier announce that all American servicemen and women in Japan have been accounted for.

TH: Good news. Now, turning to Hawaii...
Speaking of Hawaii, the absolutely silliest thing I saw during the coverage was on Fox News, where they showed some random webcam from Kauai next to a countdown clock supposedly ticking down the seconds until the tsunami arrived. I'm not sure exactly which was worse: the faux precision of the countdown clock, or watching some random picture of Kauai with no idea of how far it was from the water or how high up it was. Anyway, when the clock ticked down to zero and absolutely nothing happened, the anchors seemed disappointed.

But the oddest thing I noted yesterday was this sentence from the White House's statement on the earthquake and tsunami: "The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy." I can't decide for the life of me whether the pun is intentional. On the one hand, it's hard to believe that it wasn't intentional or, at least, that it was unnoticed, but on the other it seems like an odd time for wordplay.

1 comment:

Harry Eagar said...

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be able to compare TV and newspaper coverage, but it happens I am at my daughter's house and can compare CNN and NYT.

The Times coverage is about a hundred times better, and its online graphical display, especially of satellite before and after, is extraordinarily good.

CNN coverage is mostly a joke.

There are beach webcams all over Hawaii, but there's usually so much spume in the air that they don't show anything clearly.

For a view of the tsunami from a tugboat, visit RtO