NEW YORK, December 29, 2004 -- We continue to watch as the death toll of the earthquake and tsunamis that rocked the Indian Ocean region climbs. Each day adds thousands more to the roll, as though the number can begin to expresses the depth of misery and grief suffered by those across South Asia. We have seen nothing like this in our lifetimes -- the death and destruction is too large to comprehend, too awful to absorb.
Some of us watch the constantly recycled video with a sense of forboding -- others, unfortunately, with titillation, gaping at replays of the big waves swallowing humans like some action adventure movie.
This is not "reality television." This is reality on television.
Thanks to the media, the gruesome details of this dramatic moment of planetary horror and peril are inescapable. Sure, its regrettable that some outlets may give more attention to the story of a bathing suit model who survived, or the grandson of a King who was lost, than the tens of thousands who perished in villages and towns from Pedang to Galle.
Mainstream media is paying attention. This is one international story that cannot be ignored.
But along with their flood of media images comes a media responsibility.
We in the media must do more than document the devastation. We have the power to mobilize a global response, allowing millions worldwide to come to the aid of those affected in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, the Maldives, Malaysia and Indonesia and elsewhere.
We at MediaChannel are calling on all the world's media -- newspapers, TV stations, radio outlets, magazines, blogs, websites, and cable networks to join behind a UNITED MEDIA APPEAL -- a concerted campaign to press "the haves" in this world to respond to this emergency immediately and with generosity.
When the towers fell in New York, Americans and the world responded with Billions in aid.
This disaster dwarfs our own.
The world's media executives can contribute their own capital -- airtime, column inches, webspace and billboards -- to a coordinated high impact effort to raise tens of millions to aid the region.
It can take the form of special programs, public service announcements, talk shows, and celebrity appeals. Better yet, how about an international multi-media telethon designed to monopolize mainstream media byways and airwaves with a concerted appeal for aid.
The need is now.
We can't just be bystanders. We can use our creativity and media power to do the kind of outreach that is missing. I am talking about ONE appeal under the auspices of the UN. One Message. One phone number to call. One PO Box to send checks to. Every cash register in every store can take in contributions of compassion. Every advertiser can support this appeal.
Call it SOS TSUNAMI.
Lets do it now.
Mediachannel is willing to help but ours is a small voice. Lets wake up the big guys, summon them back from holiday break and throw the biggest telethon in history to respond to the biggest disaster in history.
Will you sign on?
Share your thoughts.
Danny Schechter (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Mediachannel.org team
Copyright © 2004 the Media Channel