nicole rademacher

Friday, March 5, 2010

3:34 am

I never really imagined what an earthquake was like. In fact, it took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on, with the blue glow of the moon through the bedroom windows, watching my house dance as if we were on a boat during a storm.

Mati was telling me - put on some shoes - get dressed - go outside. With no lights it was hard to find clothes and shoes. I ended up with a dress on over my pj's and Mati found a pair of my shoes for me.
I took the dog and just stood there on the sidewalk trembling, and kinda cold too. I watched as people popped out of their houses. The older lady next door stood on her doorstep smoking a cigarette. Eventually Mati found the flashlight and had surveyed the - lack of - damage in the house and joined me outside.
Sitting there I noticed the layer of dust, from the ground to above the roofs.

I immediately went inside to grab the cameras.

I never got a picture of the dust because I was too busy trying to document the fallen and sprawled things in the house.

Around 6am we fell back asleep. I remember asking Matías what magnitude he thought that was, he said 6. A friend called at 10am. That was when we found out it was an 8 or greater. We immediately got up and turned on the news.

As cliché as it is, the terremoto (earthquake in Spanish, just the sound of the word is fitting) has made me realize the more important things in life.

And seeing as we have now returned to life as it was before (minus a few glasses), I can't help but feel guilty (perhaps that isn't the right word to describe the emotion): this has been quite devastating for so many people, even here in Santiago, and we walk away with barely a scratch.

We watch the news the same as my friends and family in other countries; we gape at the horrible devastation. In the afternoon when we take our dog to the park, we walk by piles of rubble on the sidewalk next to buildings that look like nothing has happened, but the piles of bricks and plaster had to come from somewhere. I fail to understand the hardship of so many of the people around me. And that really bothers me.

We have turned off the news (that runs almost 24/7). Are we shutting it out? Going back to our lives trying not to think about those around us? No. It's the news. The images have been fearful and quite sensationalist. Letters by TV executives have been written to the newsrooms deploring them for their coverage over the last week. There was one (actually two shown successively) of a foot and then of a hand, both being torn from the destruction, both from bodies that have since lost their breath. These images put me between crying and vomiting.

The favorite word of newscasters and TV commentators has been "dantesca" (horrific, shocking, gruesome). While the journalist is interviewing people gathering water from the nearby lake in Concepción, because they have no running water - water that they have to boil and then add a few drops of bleach before they can consume it - tells them that this situation is terrible. These journalists are completely irresponsible! Firstly, the public knows that the situation is horrific, that is clear by the un-edited images that are shown. Secondly, the people living through the "dantesca" events know that this is terrible. Your responsibility as a journalist is not to tell them that or sensationalize it to the public more - placing more fear upon the events. Your responsibility is to observe, report, and document - objectively.

Ok. I have gotten off of my high horse. My next post will be about the trials and tribulations of editing a short film - or perhaps something else, but art related, I promise.

By the way, this epidemic of sensationalism in journalism is not Chilean.


joAco said...

Dantesco, ca.
Relative to Dante Aligieri and his work.
Dantesque, maybe.

nic said...

Dantesque? Oh, that is just too much. It is already a lot with the translation being "gruesome". Can't we just leave it as that?

Shark said...

On the upside, at least you've taken your head out of your ass to write something that is not unpretentious bollox.

Totally agree about the journalism stuff.