News Editors Despondent Rolling Crises Don’t Amount to Much: Group

BAKÜ, Azerbaijan ~ A recent series of fast-moving crises left news editors around the world disheartened that the stories did not amount to much in the end, an industry grouping said this week.

At a media conference here in the Azerbaijani capital Bakü, How to Make the Most Out of Rolling Global Crises, delegates heard from organiser Central Organisation for Direct Dissemination (CODD) how despite news organisations’ adroitness at speedily slapping together “crisis banners” and eye-catching graphics packages, their efforts were largely unwarranted.

“We keep expecting an Armageddon-type ending to these stories, but they just kind of keep petering out,” Peter McLure, executive news editor of Australian daily Tittybong Turbine, told The Bali Times.

“It is quite exasperating. We keep building up and building up and then – nothing,” he said.

With last week’s global swine flu outbreak overtaking the international news agenda and reported as a “crisis” and “epidemic,” editors said they had hoped for a “perfect news storm” with the addition of the longer-established global economic crisis.

“But then we had health experts come on and say swine flu is no more dangerous or deadly than ordinary flu,” a CODD member from Mexican all-news channel Noticias Tonto said.

Mexico had reported swine flu deaths at over 150, then less than 50 and finally a dozen as capital Mexico City shut down, raising newsroom expectations of a “significant event,” the delegate said.

In a bid to actuate a substantive crisis, the conference editors said they were adopting a “proactive stance” and pored over a recent classified assessment from United States intelligence agencies outlining “the ecologically most devastated area in the world” – Azerbaijan’s Apsheron Peninsula and the Caspian Sea.

The item could transmogrify into a potential major story, an end-session communiqué said, owing to the region’s “severe air, soil and water pollution; soil pollution results from oil spills, from the use of DDT pesticide, and from toxic defoliants used in the production of cotton.”

“This looks like a real goer,” said Russian TV news editor Sergey Durlak.

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