By Ingrid Bachmann
The ordeal in northern Chile of 33 miners trapped for two months 2,300 feet below ground “has converted into a big reality show,” explained La Nación. The rescue expected for this Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, promises to be the “media event” of the week.
More than 1,500 journalists, photographers and videographers have swarmed to the site, dubbed Esperanza, or Camp Hope, in search of "human stories," according to La Nación. Terra reported that 250 media outlets received credentials to cover the imminent rescue. News teams from places like Russia, Japan and Colombia are sharing the media anxiety with Chilean reporters and the families of the miners, explained EFE and El Mundo. Government sources cited by New York Times said that more media are covering the miners' rescue than covered the earthquake that shook Chile last Feb. 27.
Given the logistics of the rescue, the Chilean government announced that it will prevent media access to the mine. According to ORBE, authorities will transmit the rescue live and the images will be available to the media to use for free.
The characteristics of the story — the accident in the mine, the search for survivors, and the long wait for rescue — make for an epic tale that according to the news agency AFP already is inspiring book and film projects. However, a survey in Chile revealed thatl 79 percent of respondents believe the media are exploiting the image of the miners and their families, reported Terra.
The families also have expressed concern for the over-exposure the miners could suffer once they are rescued and confronted with the national and global frenzy the rescue operation has prompted, explained La Tercera. In recent weeks the miners have received training for handling the press — in addition to counseling— and have indicated that they are willing to talk to the media upon their rescue, according to Europa Press and Radio Bío-Bío.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.