I want to make clear this post isn’t about the relief effort in Samoa and Tonga. I think that has been well handled.
It was good to see Winnie Laban and Chris Carter, both MPs with links to Samoa, were sent out there immediately to work with our diplomats in assessing the situation and are now getting the information back to the ministers. Cross-party cooperation is appropriate in this situation.
It’s good that Key’s going to get out there in a few days once he gets back from Florida. I don’t think he will treat it as just another photo op.
But this is wee gripes and my wee gripe is about how the media handled the tsunami alert. It was irresponsible of them to over-hype it the way they did. If you listen to the various interviews on Morning Report all the official advice right from the start was ‘This is not a threat to New Zealand. Just don’t go down to the beach to watch.’ The only official who stuffed up was the guy on Breakfast, but the effect of what he said was the same ‘there’s no tsunami threat to NZ’
Yet the online media in particular, which is where a lot of people not turn to for up to the minute info in an emergency, hyped and hyped the thing. Breathless reports of where and when it would strike New Zealand. Failing to mention it would be small, if noticeable, and on a low tide. It was almost as if the media set out to create panic.
Almost worse than hyping the thing, the media actually got taken in by the hype. Apparently, newsrooms in Auckland were emptied out with everyone sent to the beaches to cover the waves.
How will the public react next time we see ‘Tsunami heading our way’ in screaming bold on nzherald.co.nz? Will we remember how the media cried wolf this time and ignore them?
Next time, it might be the real thing. Thanks to the media’s irresponsibility, people might not heed the warnings.