Have you heard about what happened in New Orleans yet?
I have a buddy there. Today, I sent her a Snapchat message and asked if she was okay. She is. Her soror, who’s home (along with her newly remodeled kitchen) ended up across the street? Maybe not so much. Thankfully, the dog survived inside the house as it was relocated. Grim stuff.
But again, have you heard about it? I know I hadn’t until earlier today, when I saw a Facebook post that simply read “Pray for New Orleans.” I thought to myself, “Dear God, what’s happened now?” I promptly messaged the above friend, and then I visited CNN.com for more news. It was all about Donald Trump. I visited MSNBC. More Donald Trump. I retooled my strategy and visited FOX NEWS. Fukushima … Donald Trump.
I’m just about sick of President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, a tornado hit the New Orleans East area. 300 properties were affected over a 2 to 2.5 mile tornado path. The tornado, classified as an EF-3, was the first tornado of this magnitude to hit New Orleans. According to the National Weather Service, at the EF-3 level the tornado was considered to have severe winds ranging from 136 to 165 mph. Two schools were destroyed. There were no fatalities and at least 33 injuries have been reported.
In case you’re curious, the strongest Tornado is a EF-5. But hey, maybe since nobody died, this tornado isn’t big news? After all, Nordstrom dropping Ivanka’s clothing line is what really matters in America, right?
After speaking to my friend on Snapchat, and sharing with her my frustrations that New Orleans wasn’t more prominent on the few sites I’d visited, I made up my mind to view more top news sites. I was curious to see if this omission was common. After all, maybe my dependence on CNN was the actual problem. 15 websites later, it was a dismal showing.
Yes, I said 15 websites. As of February 2017, eBiz MBA lists the below as the top 15 news websites in the United States. I clicked the sites, in order, and have added what their top headline was about when I visited:
- Yahoo! News: Trump weighs in on the Nordstrom drama
- Google News: Silencing Elizabeth Warren backfires on GOP
- Huffington Post: Steve Bannon, Mr. Doom
- CNN: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch found Trump’s tweet demoralizing
- New York Times: Trump attacks judiciary’s “disgraceful” attack on Bannon
- Fox News: Nuclear nightmare, Fukushima radiation disaster)
- NBC News: White House says McCain owes Seal an apology for criticizing Yemen Raid
- Mail Online: Madonna adopts twins
- The Washington Post: Trump’s Supreme Court nominee
- The Guardian: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch found Trump’s tweet demoralizing
- The Wallstreet Journal: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch found Trump’s tweet demoralizing
- ABCNews: The Appeals Court hearing on Trump’s travel ban
- BBC News: Brexit Bill
- USA Today: Senator Elizabeth Warren, #LetLizSpeak
- LA Times: Trump attacks federal judges
As for those dismal results? Well, only four websites offered any mention of the tornado in New Orleans. They were:
- Huffington Post. I scrolled down … wayyyyy down to find a link to photos from the devastation. I wanted a detailed article, but pictures are powerful … and it’s the Huffington Post. I thought it was adequate for the site.
- The New York Times. I scrolled down … wayyyy down to find a 45 second video titled “Tornado rips through New Orleans.” While I’d have appreciated a well written article, the video was terrifying enough to communicate the magnitude of the tornados destruction. Again, better than nothing.
- NBC News: I scrolled down a bit and found the first actual article about the Tornados. The headline, “Tornados, Severe Storms Rip Through New Orleans,” was descriptive and felt like real news.
- ABC News: It’s a very slight scroll, but if you blink you’ll miss the small font linking to the video “New Orleans Woman Survives Tornado Hiding in Bathtub.” Not the article with information I was hoping for, but at least it was information.
- I should add that while neither Mail Online or BBC News mentioned New Orleans, it makes sense given that they are UK news sites. And Mail Online covers celebrity news about the United States. Fair enough.
You know what’s even worse? I made sure to search for “New Orleans” on each page, just in case it was buried somewhere minor at the bottom of the front page. There really wasn’t anything.
So what did I take from this? Well, New Orleans is a major city and it has experienced a disaster. While I was at least able to justify a website like The Los Angeles Times not mentioning it because, you know, the website is about Los Angeles, overall I’m seriously questioning how much trust we can put into the media to talk about what’s happening to people in our country.
But isn’t everyone? This is why Social media has become so important. While the media picks and chooses what we should care about, people are talking about what actually touches us on a daily basis. This isn’t to say we aren’t either as horrified as MSNBC News is about Trump, or as happy about Trump as FOX News. It’s simply to say that, OTHER THINGS are happening to the American people. Things we feel right now. Things we’re trying to survive RIGHT NOW. I find the continued back and forth over our president to be far less impactful than knowing homes are flying across the street a few states over.
Or don’t the people matter?
And yes, I know there are alternative news sites. I’ve long since figured out that I’d better visit local newspaper sites for city news. I’m well aware the top 15 aren’t our only option, but I need you to consider how much POWER and VIEWERSHIP these sites garner. If the biggest and most powerful new organizations aren’t sharing key information, many people who don’t have the resources, or want, or know how to dig for better information won’t get it. We have never been more connected in 2017 and yet, our news coverage is becoming spottier by the minute. Quantity has never meant quality, something never more apparent than when you turn on the “news.”
Maybe, right now, the people are the only way to know what’s actually going on in the world. I recommend we all break through our bubbles and expand our circles or we won’t see what’s really coming through the smoke.
And isn’t that what “they” really want?