Friday 11 March 2011

Japan earthquake — and responsible journalism

I've been at work all day and busy in the evening, so I've only caught glimpses of the news reports coming from Japan, but the TV pictures I've seen so far look horrendous. A natural disaster is obviously a hot topic, and a lot is written about it — not just dealing with the disaster itself, but also concerning related speculation, perhaps about the frequency of such events, their causes, and what can be done — if anything — to anticipate them, and to mitigate their effects afterwards.

I appreciate that it may be hard for a newspaper editor to come up with a unique perspective on an event like today's earthquake in Japan and its resulting tsunami. I appreciate that a paper needs to have something special to offer its readers — a reason why they should read this paper rather than another. But I am at a loss to understand the mentality of an editor who approved the publication of this:

It's clear from the article that the Mail knows that this "astrological prediction" is entirely bogus. And yet it publishes this despicable, tasteless and inconsiderate nonsense in the face of massive destruction and potentially enormous human suffering.

I ... words fail me.