Arriving just days after the earthquake it was possible to witness the news coverage as well as individual reaction to these events.

The epicenter was in Wenchuan, less than 100KM from our originally planned route that took us to Chengdu. We were certainly lucky.

CCTV–China Central Television–provided 24 hour coverage. Initially the content focused on the facts of the event, reported in a soft-British tone with a minimum of colourful adjectives. There was reporting of questions raised around why so many schools and hospitals collapsed, suggesting poor workmanship and corruption. As well there were pictures of politicians touring the area kissing babies. It would seem kissing babies is one of those political actions that transcends boundaries and political systems.

As days went on the content evolved to human-interest stories. The story of a young soldier who lost 8 members of his family but stayed with his troop to help in the rescue work. Another story of a husband and wife who donated their entire savings to the relief effort commenting that this was money given to them by the state so it is time to return it in their time of need. The reporter noted the couple were teachers.

The government acted very quickly to this event. Unlike thirty years ago when the story of a similar event was covered up, this time around there has been extensive news coverage and visits by the President, Vice President and Prime Minister. Where media access has been limited CCN reports it is for safety reasons.

May be this change reflects a more open China, or a government that appreciates past dynasties have fallen as a result of ignored natural disasters.

The most poignant scene for me was to see the crowd intensely watching coverage in the waiting area at Yangzhou train station. But certainly the reaction of the people was real and heart felt.

Watching coverages of the Earthquake
Waiting passengers in Yangzhou train station watch coverage on CCTV


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