What’s the difference?

The other day I posted a suggestion that the tsunami is a big story in a large part because news consumers are driving the story, not elite East Coast editors (as in the old-fashioned days of news gather and dissimilation).

I’ll take this USA Today column as further confirmation that my theory isn’t unfounded.

This is one of those stories nobody quite understood in the first couple of days exactly what this was going to be,” says ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, reporting Monday from Colombo, Sri Lanka. “The White House didn’t understand it, journalists didn’t understand it, and aid organizations didn’t understand it.

“Now, more and more reporters are wandering into the story. But everyone was slow to completely grasp the significance.”

Peter Johnson doesn’t address the issue at all, but I still maintain that if not for the Net, this story would have been just another day-or-two disaster story. In fairly recent years, there have been comparable tragic natural disasters that haven’t gotten nearly the coverage or attention as this tsunami. I think the self-directed nature of Net news gathering, and the rise of lay journalism makes all the difference.

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