Parachuting journalists rushing in to cover the South Korean ferry boat disaster are turning to uneducated instant analyses to blame a culture they don’t understand for the tragedy, according to Kai Ma who shared her thoughts in Time (US Navy photo of rescue operations).
175 people are confirmed dead and 127 still missing from this month’s ferry disaster.
Reports in the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Dallas Morning News, and CNN have pointed to the concept for respect for elders, obedience, and Confucian values as the reason why students stayed in their cabin rather than challenge orders from the ferry’s captain to stay put.
“First, there are many correspondents who parachute in to write about disasters who aren’t that familiar with the culture they drop into,” said Elizabeth Spayd, editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review. (And it’s also true, in most American newsrooms, that the staff is not as diversified as the world.) But another reality is that, after a big disaster, when everyone’s looking for answers, people grab for whatever they can find.”
This isn’t the first tragedy where this has happened and it likely won’t be the last. You can read more about that along with Kai Ma’s own thoughts on the matter in Time.