Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 19 July 2004

A 'small country far away' ...

In the days before the internet I might never have become aware of this, or certainly not anything like as quickly. Flooding and dozens of minor earthquakes have struck the North Island of New Zealand's Bay of Plenty region. About 1,500 have been evacuated from their homes and a spokesperson for Whakatane District Council is quoted as saying that "This area still looks like a large swimming pool". As this story, when I linked with it, was date-stamped 07.46 GMT Monday 19th July I suppose it may not have percolated into the radio or television newsrooms yet, but at least it should make it to BBC News24 during the course of the morning. I'll be interested to see if it makes the main 6pm bulletin today. One would normally expect a country like New Zealand, with which we have pretty close historic and cultural ties, to be very well reported here, but for many reporters it has perhaps just become another 'small country far away'. I'll report back tomorrow on what I observe here during today.

On the other hand the forest fires currently affecting parts of Califormia and Nevada are being prominently reported on BBC News24 this morning and are of course reported on in the BBC website as well. The usually comprehensive Drudge provides a link to the story here, although when I read the AP story his headline that the fire had 'jumped the lines' had been retracted; perhaps his link dates from an early period, or perhaps he didn't read the whole story before linking.

What am I on about? Well, accuracy really ... and objectivity ... or at least 'the striving for' of this highly-elusive commodity. I know I commit howlers of my own from time to time; this is not so much criticism as observation and a reminder to myself of the need constantly to re-examine news items I come across.

UPDATE: (Tuesday 20JUL04 00.55 BST) Well it doesn't look as if the flooding and multiple earthquakes NZ's North Island experienced last night made it on to television news bulletins here - certainly not the ones I watched (BBC News24 and BBC1).

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