Covering a Natural Disaster
As Chimamanda Adichie has pointed out, , there are dangers to covering a single story. Within Iraq, this has never been truer where frequently coverage of events focus on Western governments attacking extremist and militant terrorist groups. When a series of massive floods destroyed cities and infrastructures in southern and central Iraq from May 2013 to November 2013, I was predicting a single story coverage of the events.
I was expecting to see stories of inept government responses to the crisis alongside pictures or interviews of struggling Iraqis who were not being helped by these agencies. Finding coverage of the natural disaster, I was not that shocked to see exactly those themes covered. In “Floods Cause Severe Damage in Southern Iraq” by Al Monitor, the one image available was that of Iraqis wading in flood waters. Much of the article stressed the government’s reaction to the flooding including the evacuation of people, the promise to compensate people for their crops, and officials reacting to the collapse of a dam. In another article, it suggested that previous historical events were to blame for the response to the flooding. Other articles such as “Floods in Iraq, May 2013” and “Flooding in Southern, Central Iraq kills 11” just added to the single story presented, one of struggling people and incompetent government.
What I was most disappointed on after reading about these floods, was the lack of other reporting being done. Out of the three articles, I found they all gave similar reporting on the floods. I was left with questions of what happened after the floods, why wasn’t the government’s or other agencies reactions to the floods shown or documented in photos, and why did this flooding take such as low importance in international journalism during these weeks?