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Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake

Introduction

The tenets of the theoretical framework of deconstruction are some of the offer valuable insights in the analyses of particular art forms, artifact and as well as various media forms. The use of the term was initialized in the 9160s by Jacques Derrida. Gavin Ambrose et al (20010 offer the following definition of deconstruction. “Deconstruction is strategy of critical analysis aimed at unearthing overly assumed metaphysical suppositions as well internal contradictions in philosophical and literary language.” The theoretical precincts of the deconstruction schools of thought provides feasible analyses framework for the social messages articulation and deconstruction of various media forms used in the coverage of the China earthquake in 2008.

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Main body

China Central Television (CCTV) responded promptly to the tragedy and started broadcasting on the disaster and its scale. The Chinese government media channels dwelt significantly on the country’s premier Wen Jiabao who rushed to the tragedy scenes. This was done in sharp contrast to the Myanmar national leadership which was comparatively showed diffident in reacting to the hurricane disaster. The reactions by the Chinese’s government authorities were hailed much in the country’s state media channels as way of allaying disdain especially by Western Countries of China as Dictatorship with little or no regard for civil liberties and welfare. The day that followed the visit of crisis and tragedy scenes by the Country’s premier saw a numerous publications of exclusive interviews in newspapers and electronic media forms with victims eye witnesses of the tragedy, These also helped solicit international support for the victims of the earthquake.

The ensuing of events that followed the Earthquake various media forms played different roles in coverage the incident. The Television and Video News websites used animate visuals to capture the aspects of the devastating epidemic of earthquake that struck China SiChuan region. The electronic media forms captured animate aspects of the events showing among other things the rushing and scurrying for safety for survivors whilst also presenting piles of rubbles of collapsed structures within which casualties were submerged. The CNN news Channel as well other global news channels like the BCC presented the earthquake incident levels on television as well in their news websites.

The electronic media form was effective in conveying the compelling dimension of the tragedy in manner that enhanced efforts of garnering global support for the victims in need of food, shelter, clean water medication and other amenities. International newspapers portrayed the grim realty visuals of the incident and the local newspaper in China has protracted focus on the highlighting of the Chinese government authorities prompt response to the tragedy.

At the dawn of the actual impact and the scale of the disaster the crux was in disseminating news in most expedient forms to trigger response, reaction and solicit assistance for victims. This is where photography comes in handy. Among the quake victims were scores of a students and children.

 China earthquake Victim
2008 China earthquake Victim

The photo above was taken by a Chinese documentary photographer who stood on the ruins and noted an unknown child’s hand exposed on the surface. Although her body is completely engulfed in rubble and marl, she is still holding a pen tightly in her lifeless hand. The image has immense bearing on theorisations of the image import on the importance of education and knowledge for the future of younger generations represented by the child. This image thrusts indelibly so, the impact of this catastrophe, albeit horrendous in the minds of those who view this photo. People from all over China rushed to disaster areas to rescue the affected following the publication of the image over the internet news sites and various print publications.

From the moment the earthquake struck many photographs like the one above were peddled the world over and resultantly many people were stirred and some mobilized and empathized out of their compassion for victims in the disaster areas.

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The media coverage of the Sichuan earthquake generated interest over the unexpected paradigmatic shift from the part of the disasters coverage by state media. Journalists the world over were enquiring to establish whether or not there had been any shift in official policy. Interest was also developed in the matters regarding media independence with expectations around the possibility of disaster triggered shift in political media gag.

The media surge particularly notable in the media coverage of the Sichuan earthquake can be interpreted well within the context of historical development around disaster media reportage. Traditional opinions around the disasters and the media coverage have largely been based on the notion that these events play to the undesired creation of negative images and perceptions of China by the global community. Notes that in the early 1980a such disasters of national scale were regarded as off-limits. “The events were not open for media coverage as they were considered off-limits as news focus subject or enquiry”. David Machin, (2007) This is well substantiated by the fact that in the case when a civil aero plane went missing there was reportage or media coverage allowed on the matter. David Machin (2007) notes, “In the 1990s China gradually opened up on media liberties and by the 1995 media coverage on disasters became less of a taboo.”

A closer observation of the coverage of the Sichuan earthquake by state media will indicate that there was an engendered play down on the impact of the disaster and proportions of human suffering. State media focused quiet protractedly on hailing the government for its relief commitments and dwelled much on presenting the government the government relief thrusts as acts heroism. As in previous disasters journalists were not allowed to identify those possibly liked to the extent of the problems even around the alleviating o the impact of natural disasters. It may not be established why the Chinese authorities allowed that much media freedom on the reportage of the Sichuan earthquake but the way in which journalist had free play to exercise their professional duties in covering the aftermath of the disaster indicates a possible and feasible shift from pro-media-gag policies towards ideals of media independence.

The independent media took broad minded and contextualized reportage on disaster. A CNN report on the condition of the earthquake victims featured the grim reality of the disaster survivors who were faces with stark food, accommodation and shelter challenges. The report presented the challenge that faced China as a nation. The report was premised in the broader context entailing the country’s challenge of preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics whilst having to deal with thousands of earthquake victims who needed urgent support for their sustenance.

This also presents insights on why this was an important to cover. There was generated interest over China following the Olympics torch relay which was interrupted by various protests emanating from the China’s bad human rights records specially with regards to the failure of the granting of sovereignty Rights to Tibet. China has always generated interest owing to its vast economy held as the biggest economy in the world in the measures of Parity Share. The country is also regarded as an eastern Economy Power house has occupied pole position as the fastest growing economy in the world in the past years. The country has also generated interest through is often contested association with dictators like Sudan and Zimbabwe among other democratically immature countries.

Conclusion

China Earthquake aftermath reports presented some of the most moving accounts of human compassion. In some area, a seventy year old beggar donated all his money after heard about the earthquake. Volunteers kept joining breakdown squads. Foreigners and various expatriates came to help China in those crucial moments. The impact of the photo slotted above prompted numerous people to adopt orphans who lost their parents to the dreadful earthquake. Some people began to think of psychotherapy and the future reconstruction of the devastate areas. This presents an important dynamic of the role of photography in modern societies with volatile environments and precarious socio-political and social milieus traversed by multiple upheavals.

Modern photography is more oriented on prompt and efficient information dissemination which most importantly plays a vital part in enhancing the power of the call to action to the recipients of information. The image is more so playing a formidable role in conveying messages in way tat has challenged the tradition user of the images in journalism and media.

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References

David Machin, 2007. Hodder Education. Introduction to Multimodal Analysis, Oak Books. NYK.

Edwards, Richard L. et al. 2004. The Moving Image,” University of Minnesota Press.

Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris. 2001. Image. Ava Publishing, UK.

Clark, Robert. 2003. “Photography, its Invention and Early History”, The Literary Encyclopedia. 

Howard Anthony Risatti, Howard Risatti (1997), Postmodern Perspectives: Issues in Contemporary Art. Prentice Hall.

The power of documentary photography, Shuyong Liu, Chengyan Art, 2008. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, September 22). Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/media-coverage-of-the-china-2008-earthquake/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, September 22). Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake. https://studycorgi.com/media-coverage-of-the-china-2008-earthquake/

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StudyCorgi. "Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake." September 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/media-coverage-of-the-china-2008-earthquake/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake." September 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/media-coverage-of-the-china-2008-earthquake/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Media Coverage of the China 2008 Earthquake'. 22 September.

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