At least 13 people are dead and 40,000 homes are damaged because of flooding in Louisiana – and the rest of the world isn’t really talking about it.
Since rain hit the state’s southern region last week, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have collectively issued no formal acknowledgements of the disaster, aside from a tweet.
As of Thursday morning, the search term “Louisiana” wasn’t easy to find on Google Trends,’ sharing a spot at 31 beside news of President Obama’s vacation plans.
Obama has yet to visit Louisiana, but members of his cabinet are on the ground. One of the state’s largest newspapers recently published an editorial asking him to leave his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and come help Americans struggling in the southern state. For comparison, Obama visited New Jersey two days after Hurricane Sandy touched down there. The Red Cross is calling the flooding in Louisiana the worst natural disaster since the superstorm.
Red Cross spokesperson Craig Cooper said this “epic” disaster, expected to hit $30 million in disaster response, is struggling for national attention because it hit in the midst of the Olympics, election season and another natural disaster — the California wildfires.
“This isn’t making the front pages,” he said. “It’s not making the landing page on websites. From the Red Cross’ perspective, the Louisiana floods are page one.”
And it isn’t making the front pages for a reason, according to Susan Moeller, professor of media and international affairs at University of Maryland, and director of the International Center for Media.
The Louisiana flooding is a classic case of a “bad-timing” for media coverage, according to Moeller. She notes that while the floods have been covered, they’ve escaped the attention they would have received at another time.
“It’s a presidential election year, and the Olympics are ongoing,” she said. “There’s very little oxygen in the newsroom for covering it.”
Moller said all it takes is one scroll through your newsfeed to see the coverage is predominately about Trump and Clinton, the U.S. swimming fiasco in Rio, and the Olympic medal count.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Ashley May and Mary Bowerman