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Does Disaster Reporting Always Lead to Help for Victims?

Although mid-19th-century newspapers published stories about Ireland’s disastrous famine, few resources were donated to help the victims.

About 18 months after the potato crop failed, journalists who visited Ireland were reporting horrific conditions for Irish families. Some of the evicted Irish tenant-farmers, with no place to go and little to eat, tried to shelter their families by living in holes dug in the Irish bog.

So many people were dying that families had no funds for proper burials and coffins were in very short supply.

William Bennett, in his 1847 “Narrative of a Recent Journey of Six Weeks in Ireland,” tells us this at page 25:

Many of the cabins were holes in the bog, covered with a layer of turves, and not distinguishable as human habitations from the surrounding moor, until close down upon them. The bare sod was about the best material of which any of them were constructed. Doorways, not doors, were usually provided at both sides of the bettermost-back and front to take advantage of the way of the wind. Windows and chimneys, I think, had no existence.

If a disaster, like this, were to occur today, how would people respond?

Do you think the response, from people wanting to help those in need, would be different from the response of people to the Irish potato famine? Why, or why not?

Even today, does disaster reporting always lead to help for victims? Explain your answer.

What kind of disaster reporting do you think is most effective to generate help for victims? Why?


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