Natural Disasters

Media Earthquake


Doc Searls on following disaster news on portable devices:

The quake is coming to be called the 2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, and your best portable media to keep up with it are these:

1. Al Jazeera English, for continuous live TV coverage (interrupted by war coverage from Libya)
2. Twitter, for continuous brief reports and pointage to sources
3. Wikipedia, for a continuously updated static page called 2011 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, with links to authoritative sources

I just looked at ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, CBC and BBC online, and all have recorded reports. None have live coverage on the Net. They are, after all, TV networks; and all TV networks are prevented from broadcasting live on the Net, either by commercial arrangements with cable and satellite TV distributors, or by laws that exclude viewing from IP addresses outside of national boundaries….

NPR has the same problem. You don't get live radio from them. Still, you do get live radio from nearly all its member stations. Not true for TV. Lots of TV stations have iPhone, iPad and Android apps, but none feature live network video feeds, again because the networks don't want anything going "over the top" (of the cable system) through Net-connected devices. This is a dumb stance, in the long run, which gets much shorter with each major breaking news story.

Here's the take-away: emergencies such as wars and earthquakes demonstrate a simple and permanent fact of media life: that the Net is the new TV and the new radio, because it has subsumed both. It would be best for both TV and radio to normalize to the Net and quit protecting their old distribution systems.

Searls later updated his post to note that has four live streams running, though viewing them can be "a bit of a kluge." His basic point still stands.

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  1. They are, after all, TV networks; and all TV networks are prevented from broadcasting live on the Net…

    Doc Searls is blaming the dearth of live internet coverage of the tsunami on the free market system! Booooo.

    But yes, news media does very much need to update their business models, cable and satellite providers be damned.

    1. It isn’t a “free” market, of course, when government regulations prevent TV networks from disseminating more comprehensive coverage of these events.

    2. I watched over an hour of the live local Honolulu NBC affiliate coverage around the time the waves hit Hawaii this morning

  2. Watching the live feed, Al Jazeera English just did a good job explaining to me how Scott Walker is taking away workers’ rights in Wisconsin.

    1. Did they bother to mention that the public workers in question are a tiny minority of all workers? Or are they mirroring the MSNBC model of Leaving Out Important Facts?

      1. They left a lot of things out of their coverage.

    2. Don’t worry, rightist libertartians, Al Jazeera is a well-known stronghold of liberal bias.

      1. Hey Nitwit I don’t go to Al Jazeera for libertarian ideas!

  3. I followed the coverage on Al Jazeera English on the internet, they were supremely ahead of any ‘breaking news’ segments on TV

  4. Al Jazeera uses the shocking approach of covering news events before fluff.

    As noted here, they also put their live feed link right on the home page of their website – and it’s CLEAR how to use it, unlike CNN.

    Their Live Blogs are also pretty damn good.

    They also aren’t shy about reporting rumors, and just putting a disclaimer on the material identifying it as a rumor.

    All in all, it’s a pretty darn good resource.

    1. It’s like Al Jazeera takes the job of a news resource seriously.

  5. Silver lining: The quake hit the area where both the Prias and Leaf are manufactured.

    1. Why do you hate the free market?

      1. +1 ROFL

        Another silver lining: God earthquaked Japan to give us lower oil prices.

  6. I wonder what effect the quack will have on Japanese productivity? Will prices go up? Production shortages?

    1. LOL!

      Quake….quack is in Peking….

  7. Japan: big government, strict regulations
    Haiti: weak government, nonexistent regulations

    Let’s play count the bodies!

    1. The opposite of “big government” is “small government,” not “weak government,” and Haiti is not a small-government country by any stretch of the imagination. And the more important point about the building codes’ requirements is that rules like that don’t appear (or at least aren’t strictly enforced) until a society is wealthy enough to demand them. Pass a law like that in Haiti, and it’ll be ignored. Build a skyscraper in Japan, and even if those laws weren’t on the books, your insurer would require something comparable.

    2. Is Haiti the new Somalia?

      1. You left “Winning!” of the end of that, duh.

  8. go to and search for (bootleg?) CNN live feeds. They seem fairly reliable.

  9. Uh, aren’t NBC, CBS, and ABC already “going over the head” of cable providers by broadcasting their news coverage in the TV spectrum?

    1. Yea, I think it is that new “wireless television” that the kids are monkeying with.

  10. You can get a live mobile feed at NHK Ustream. It’s a news report aimed at cell phone TVs…but I’m watching it on the net. Also, next to the report they have a twitter stream. I just watched as the announcer gave reports of 6.0 aftershocks and watch the tweets of Japanese writing that they were scared, or asking it to stop…Of course if you don’t speak or read Japanese, it will mean nothing…

  11. Brighthouse cable is broadcasting TVJapan for free. Normally it costs 30 bucks a month, but they are doing it as a service…

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