When the news get it right

Just a quick moment of joy at the way the Danish national broadcasting company DR covered the Australian bush and forest fires tonight. After the initial clips of firefighters and burning forest and bush areas, DR chose to follow up by interviewing an expert (I think from the Danish forestry department), who explained how the fires benefits the nature by clearing paths for new vegetation and in some cases being crucial for certain seeds to open etc.

This part of the story is most often forgotten when forest fires are covered in the news, as I explained in my BA thesis a couple of years ago. For instance “news reports consistently said that fires ”destroyed,” ”blackened,” and ”devastated,” rather than”covered,” ”swept,” or ”cleansed” an area, as some biologists would have preferred” as a report on the 1988 forest fires in Yellowstone National Park noted.

DR also let a representative from the Australian firefighters have a chance to explain why the firefighters did not put out the fires straight away – the fires are simply impossible for humans to stop. As a later report by the National Park Service on the 1988 Yellowstone fires stated: ”The most unfortunate public and media misconception about the Yellowstone firefighting effort may have been that human beings can always control fire if they really want to; the raw, unbridled power of these fires cannot be overemphasized.”

So hats off to the journalists at DR for not falling into the old trap, but instead taking the time to properly explain the circumstances!

If anyone are interested in reading my thesis about the media coverage of the 1988 forest fires, it can be found HERE in Danish.

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