Puerto Rico Has Been Page 2 News

Even disasters get pushed off the front page.

by Eric Holdeman / January 13, 2020

Back when newspapers were king, you knew the big stories of the day would be on the front page and "above the fold." Headline type of news. Today it is a bit harder to identify the top stories. For news websites, it can be the top story is on the left hand side of the page at the top — where our eyes naturally gravitate to for general reading purposes — in the English language anyway. 

I just checked CNN before writing this and a quick review had nothing on Puerto Rico's earthquake, nada ... without searching. Think of all the big news of this past week. The killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Soleimani, Iran's reactions, Congress' reactions, the shooting down of an airliner, impeachment, Democratic presidential candidates, the targeting of another terrorist (news of the day), but little on Puerto Rico's Jan. 7 earthquake. All of the above pushed Australia's fires out of the news cycle except for reports on all the animals being impacted. 

It is not because people don't care about Puerto Rico. I think it is the deluge of media information on a wide variety of political and geopolitical events. The one thing I got from listening to NPR radio this morning, is the status of the electrical power system in Puerto Rico — one plant providing 40 percent of the power for the island may be offline for a year. And the status of schools and discovery of a design error that makes a common building practice a vulnerability for seismic events. One school did have a total collapse, but fortunately when school was not in session. 

The downside of not having extensive, front-page coverage is that the impact of the earthquake and the images from it will have little to no influence on other geographic places that are subject to earthquakes, e.g., Washington state. We already know we have schools in this state that are not seismically safe, but ... nothing has happened so far, there isn't enough money, and they are "just" children!

The other reality is that the general citizenry will have the impression "that's Puerto Rico, which has substandard building structures" — it's not like here. Won't they be surprised at some point in the future!

Keep looking for Page 2 disaster news and what we can learn from it and apply to our own personal situations. 

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