Listening Post
Chile's miners and the media
We look at why 33 trapped men held our attention for so long, plus the phenomenon of consumer-generated advertising.
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2010 07:57 GMT

This week on the Listening Post we take a look at the media frenzy surrounding the Chilean miners' rescue that captivated viewers around the world and we explore the phenomenon of consumer-generated advertising.

Miners trapped underground is not a new story for the media. But what brought journalists to Chile in their droves last week was that this time, there were pictures. Around 2,000 journalists gathered at Camp Hope, to report on the rescue of the 33 miners.

Many news organisations opted for round-the-clock live coverage from the mine. An estimated one billion viewers tuned in for the Grand finale, with the anticipation of a happy ending; a rare occasion for such a news story. Without doubt an emotional tale, but just why did it receive such a huge amount of media attention?

Our News Divide this week goes to Chile - to one of the biggest media turnouts of the year – to try and find out just why 33 men, trapped nearly one kilometer underground, held our attention for so long.

Quick hits from the media world: Last week we reported on attempts to silence some critical voices in the Egyptian media, now 12 more TV channels have been shut down. WikiLeaks blames its recent financial woes on the US government. Myanmar will hold its first elections in 20 years but says that foreign journalists will not be allowed in to cover them. Another of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers disappears behind a paywall, and an Italian news anchor blames Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, for his two week suspension.

The internet has been around now for some time but the ability to share web video is a fairly new phenomenon. Now we are seeing all types of content online. Not all of it is good, but there is innovative material out there being produced by creative filmmakers. Big corporations know that tapping into this resource can be a cheap and effective way to advertise their product.

More and more companies are now turning to their media-savvy customers to plug their product because a viral web video can be advertising gold, especially if it has not cost you anything to make. So when faced with an expensive ad agency fee or a free consumer-generated advertisement the choice seems obvious. But, as the Listening Post's Jason Mojica found out, free consumer generated advertising can be a double-edged sword.

Finally, new media plays an integral role in our show. We watch it, we use it, we report on it - so this week's video of the weekis right up our street. It is by a band called Atomic Tom. The musicians refused to let the theft of their instruments stop them performing. So they downloaded some pretty nifty iPhone apps, entertained a few dozen commuters on the subway and a few million browsers on the world wide web. All thanks to new media! We hope you enjoy the show.

This episode of the Listening Post aired from Friday, October 22, 2010.

Al Jazeera
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