The major cable news outlets are drawing heat for their handling of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, with TV critic Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter among the most vocal critics.
“The triple threat in Japan–earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors in peril–is clearly demonstrating how reporters and anchors are bungling the basics and how the producers and executives in charge of them have fallen woefully short of leadership,” Goodman writes in THR. “How is it possible that on Monday evening (Tuesday in Japan), with the earthquake, tsunami and worries about radiation poisoning engulfing Japan, a CNN reporter can ask this question: ‘How scary has this been for you?’”
Goodman says the work being done at CNN’s competitors is even worse, with Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC all drawing sharp criticism. So who is getting the story right? Non-U.S.-based online organizations, says Goodman.
“The best coverage–by far–is taking place online by the likes of Japanese network NHK English, the BBC and Al-Jazeera English,” Goodman writes. “Deeper content is, of course, available from print outlets like The New York Times and such, but all natural disasters and wars are visual stories benefiting from moving pictures. And so CNN often becomes the default channel–so their faults, noted here, should then be applied on down to the line to those TV news outlets in this country who fall below CNN (not in ratings, naturally, but quality content).”
Goodman says the failure of television coverage of the Japan disaster comes down to three main areas: lack of planning, perspective and focus.