The Mainstream Media: What Flood in Nashville? Where’s Nashville?

After attending a business conference and speaking engagement in Nashville, I luckily got out of town on Saturday, May 1, just as the storms and flooding started.
The next morning, I was shocked to see how little attention the TV networks and cable channels as well as newspapers were paying to this disaster!
Here are search results of traditional media from Saturday May 1 through Monday May 3 courtesy of MediaQ, an application that monitors and measures both Traditional Media and Social Media:
Story                        Traditional Media Hits   
Oil Spill in Gulf             19,208 
Times Square Bomb    11,808
Nashville Floods           5,762

Why did Traditional Media pay so little attention to this story? The oil spill story had been around for several days without any real new developments. No one (thankfully!) was hurt in the failed Times Square bombing attempt. Yet over a dozen had already lost their lives in Tennessee and the story was a far third in the eyes of the editors and writers at traditional news outlets.  
Newsweek’s Andrew Romano wrote an excellent post explaining the media’s monomaniacal nature and poor judgment call that flooding in Nashville just doesn’t sizzle enough. Here are my additional thoughts.

1. The Traditional Media is New York-centric. This is especially true when it comes to anything regarding weather. Does the New York Times even have reporters west of the Hudson anymore?

2. The Traditional Media has a faux global concern. The Hollywood crowd won’t be hosting any telethons or concerts for a red heartland state like Tennessee. Fortunately, I’m guessing there’s a very kind-hearted entertainment genre based in Nashville that will take care of that!

3. And Romano is right. A natural disaster in the heartland just isn’t dramatic enough for the sensational cable channels, TV networks, and national papers. No villain, no connection to global warming, terrorism, healthcare bills, or Obama.
Fortunately for those of us who were interested in how people were doing in Nashville, we can bypass the old media and connect via social media. I saw pictures posted from inside the decimated Gaylord hotel and read blog posts from locals updating friends and colleagues on their status.  

Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Inside Gaylord Hotel 5/2/10 - Photo Courtesy of Thomas Scott

Let’s take a look again at MediaQ over May 1 -3, this time looking at Social Media hits:

Story                        Social Media Mentions
Oil Spill in Gulf            13,623
Times Square Bomb    5,685
Nashville Floods          8,597

We can see that the Nashville flood story was a much more important topic of conversation than the newspapers and TV outlets who blew the call would have thought.

For more info on using MediaQ, please contact Jeff Tidyman

2 thoughts on “The Mainstream Media: What Flood in Nashville? Where’s Nashville?

  1. Great post, Jack and it is spot on.

    The Nashville Floods were difficult to find online and in the news. A friend in Logan UT mentioned that her newspaper just yesterday ran it on the front page even though the water had been down for several days and we are well into cleanup.

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