How many journalists are covering Chile’s trapped miners?

Are you glued to footage of the rescue of 33 trapped miners? Thanks to
24-hour, live streamed coverage — the effort of hundreds of media
outlets — you won’t have to miss a second of the action.

It’s hard to deny the drama and air of excitement when watching footage of that first trapped miner—-father of two Florencio Avalos—being pulled out of the hole via a hotdog-shaped metal cylinder. It has all the makings of a good story: tearful young boy watching as the cylinder slowly emerges; crowd starts cheering as they catch a glimpse of the about-to-be-freed minder; boy runs to man for heartbreaking embrace; man and wife share a very public first kiss. It’s no wonder the world is glued to the story. And media outlets have come out full force to capture every detail. The feel-good story has garnered headlines like “a Miner Miracle” (Daily Mirror) and front-page photos on The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Globe and Mail created an interactive timeline that follows the accident.

Broadcasters like Al Jazeera, CNN and Britain’s Sky News have aired live coverage of the rescue operations, which included above ground footage of workers drilling a shoulder-width tunnel to the trapped miners and footage from consumer-quality cameras operated by the miners themselves, who have been stuck under a half mile of rock for the past two months. 

Reports have emerged of accidents and fights as throngs of journalists struggle for position (including a battle for the right to place equipment on a strategically-placed boulder), although accounts vary for how many journalists are on the ground, from 1,000 to upwards of 3,000. (The Sydney Morning Herald
reports the presence of 2,000 journalists, some from as far as China
and Turkey, noting that in lieu of international media badges, reporters
are being issues hand-labelled IDs. The BBC reportedly sent 36 reporters.) Stories about how many journalists have descended on the otherwise uninhabited stretch of desert have dominated coverage.

An AP story about the onslaught of journalists suggests that “if there’s one thing reporters don’t like to cover, it’s other reporters.” But the media coverage has become a story in itself. AP reports that while some family members are surely sick of the attention, others are embracing reporters in hopes of seeing their stories told. AP suggests that journalists are providing emotional support for families of the victims. The video also includes an interview with CBC’s Dawn Makinson and Connie Watson, who first went to Chile to cover the accident in late August and have returned to cover the rescue. Watson notes that Canadians are hugely fascinated by “every detail we can glean..what they’re doing, what they’re smoking,” especially the mental health and scientific details, she says.

Update: The spectacle (“Elation and Elvis“) following the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners.

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