More than ten days after the historic April 25 Nepal earthquake, the death toll has surpassed 7,500 and is still rising. But media coverage is already in decline. This is a concern because, like it or not, our giving follows media coverage. Giving money is a key way to help quickly. But the decisions of how, when, and how much to give have never been as complex as they are today due to technology—nor more connected to what we heard, see, and read online.
The Bible beckons us to use our time, talents, and treasure to help the vulnerable (Acts 10:4). Scripture is rich with examples, such as Nehemiah, of how God has brought about hope, redemption, and recovery through the people of God in times of disaster.
But we cannot sidestep the hard questions: Is giving in the immediate aftermath of a disaster sufficient? Is the huge spike in giving after a sudden disaster a blessing as well as a curse?
These questions lead me to conclude that Nepal needs our support—now and later.
When tracked over a 90-day period, media coverage tends peak about 15 days after a major natural disaster and then appears to drop off sharply. For example, following the 2004 tsunami, researchers at the University of Michigan found that coverage of the event in major newspapers significantly decreased after 15 days. They also found that the number of minutes devoted to the disaster on the major television channels' nightly news drastically decreased.
A study by Salon looked at reporting trends using the The New York Times as a case study following Hurricane Katrina, the Japan tsunami, and the Haiti earthquake. Media coverage took a dive within one to two weeks after each event.
This phenomenon is not limited to media coverage ...1
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