The student newspaper of Nicholls State University

Haiti falls victim to the media’s biased coverage

October 13, 2016

People around the world should demand social media sites to show the same amount of concern for poorer nations, like Haiti, during time of devastation as they do for other countries.

Hurricane Matthew has done its share of damage over the last week to the Caribbean and the Southeastern coast of the United States. The death toll in the U.S. caused by the hurricane has risen to over 20 people, but for Haiti, the death toll soars pass 1,000 people and counting.

Certainly, everyone affected by the natural disaster deserves attention, but the media has focused more on the United States than it did when the storm hit Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean. Our country is more than able to support and supply itself through any natural disaster while the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti, is suffering the worst from Hurricane Matthew. The hurricane was a record-breaking storm that brought fierce 145 miles per hour winds, immense rainfall and flooding for the country. This is the first category 4 hurricane to hit the area since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

Aside from the horrendous amount of deaths in Haiti, thousands of Haitians have lost their homes, livestock and crops. The United Nations estimates that 1.4 million people are in need of immediate assistance. This natural disaster comes to Haiti at the worst possible time, being that the country has never fully recuperated from the earthquake in 2010 that killed thousands and thousands of people and a cholera epidemic that followed.

Usually when there is a tragic event happening, it becomes a trending tropic and more of a focal point on social media sites. Social media sites such as Facebook, in the past, has taken action to bring tragedies to people’s attention all over the world. Having the option to rep a country’s flag or supporting LGBT for a profile picture, having “I am safe” notifications that allows others to know that you are safe and responses during tragedy has been ways Facebook has tired to somewhat unify people for a cause. Twitter also is known for bringing people together through trends during catastrophes. Although the hurricane was trending, it was only trending when it affected the coast of the U.S., not while it ripped through the Caribbean.

Disaster aid is facilitated by media coverage. People in today’s society, for better or for worse, only care about things when others seem to care. According to an article on voanews.com, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a business psychology professor at University College London and Columbia University, said “One main problem with social media use during crises is that it enhances ‘confirmation bias,’ or the tendency to seek out, and listen to only information that reinforces long-standing opinions.”

It’s more common in today’s society to see people on social networks who only care for issues like gun control, keeping up with the Kardashians, immigration, a pathetic presidential race and its debates and so on. This is an issue because when other, real world problems occur, no one seems to care because of the usual cycle of media bias.

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