Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina's "Crowd Out" of Other News Coverage

I’ve noticed recently that the Iraq War is barely making the news. The media is now focused on; 1. Hurricane Katrina’s Aftermath, 2. gas prices , 3. Judge Roberts Confirmation hearings, 4. start of the school year, 5. Start of the football season. It would interest me if the Pentagon is attempting to take advantage of this “quiet period” by stepping up its operations against insurgents. The media’s role as a “watchdog” is spread thin when there are so many events taking place simultaneously. We cannot be engaged on all topics at the same time and this may provide an opportunity for our military to achieve some of its goals that it may view as not politically “sellable” when the public is focused on body counts from Iraq.

Recently, economists have been studying the media’s role in shaping how we think about public policy. I’ve always wondered why we read the news? Is it for pleasure or to acquire information? On the supply side, how does TV news and the New York Times choose what to put on its front page? Do the repeated images of New Orleans’ victims spur readers to donate more money or to support public policies that will rebuild damaged areas?

5 comments :

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ed said...

Interestingly, the number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq appears to be way down in September.

http://icasualties.org/oif/

__earth said...

Somehow, I think this is merely a US-based network disease. Networks like CNN, a day or two after the disaster, kept airing stuff about New Orleans 24/7.

BBC on the other hand does not crowd out non-Katrina news. Well, maybe a little but large portion of its news is still about non-Katrina.

Anonymous said...

How would you explain that in economic terms? Taking advantage of a "blackout" in the media... Can you take advantage of something (put it into an equation?) when something is only likely to happen once in the time period of your involvement in a market, and at the same time you couldn't really predict when that first time would happen?

I don't know what the name is for it in economic terms, but the main driving force behind the Pentagon is not it's ability to get away with things when the US isn't looking. That would be nice, because it would mean that the Coalition Forces are much more successful at fighting the anti-Iraqi forces in Iraq and building political concensus than they have been.

Also, I don't think (but I'm not certain) that Katrina pulls away any CNN correspondents that are stationed in Iraq in orde to cover Katrina, so the "supply" of CNN coverage doesn't really decrease in Iraq. The role of technology and the ability of reporters to get in "one good story" really quickly has to have a balancing effect of some sort--Yahoo has room for at least five or six good headlines in its news section.

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