Catching the attention of the world

What makes the news, the news? What happens to create something which becomes an international or even global event when under different circumstances it would be just a local story?

In 2010, 33 miners were trapped underground in the Copiapó mine in Chile. At the time, the Chilean mining accident as it was known across the globe was worldwide headlines. This was not some flash in the pan here today gone tomorrow news item. This drama was played out for 69 days in front of the world’s media to a collective sigh of relief when the men were finally rescued, just as their food supply had run out.

Just this summer a similar event hit the headlines. A soccer team of young boys on a caving expedition were lost and found and then finally rescued, although one of the rescuers lost his life in the attempt.

The connections between both stories were immediately evident. So much so, that the foreman of the Chilean miners was asked for comment on the Thai boys’ experience and perhaps more specifically, what happens now after being rescued so heroically and now under the breath-holding stare of the entire world.

It is not (necessarily) the need for a happy ending

What catches the attention is not the potential for tragedy, nor is it the hope of a happy ending. While the Chilean miners and the soccer club provided a global release of held breath, there were plenty of other stories which did not.

Global media companies

The possibility that the companies who control access to news can hijack or divert a story is one theory. But it is not the answer.

In 1925 the failed rescue of cave explorer Floyd Evans became the third biggest media event between the two world wars. The other two concerned Charles Lindbergh. All three are remarkable because coverage was broadcast on the new medium of radio, a technology still in its infancy.

Positive effects

Certainly, having the attention of the world has many positive effects. For one thing, with the world looking on, no one is going to stop as long as there is hope. The rescue of the Chilean miners cost a staggering $20 billion, a third of which came from private donations. The remainder of the cost came from the government and mine owners.

The global attention brought a host of resources that may not have been available a single entity. The rescue of the soccer team involved over 1,000 people working round the clock. Input from many international governments as well as experts in many different fields assisted the Thai Navy Seals who led the efforts.

Perhaps it is just natural humanity

Does this sort of event just prove that underneath it all, we reflect a basic humanity? It would be nice to think that was the case. Parents of the boys commented it was as if they were everyone’s children.

Just in case you need to know, the boys are back at training camp, perhaps they will become famous for soccer now.