If help comes and no one reports it, did it happen?

Loads of news organizations are following the disastrous club fire in Santa Maria in Southern Brazil. How can there not be a lot of attention when more than 230 people are killed in one incident?

Notes of sympathy and offers of help flooded the national, state and local governments.

Brazil is doing a pretty good job taking care of the survivors. The medical care in Brazil is good and the doctors and nurses well-trained. But they were short of a drug needed to treat some of the survivors.

A medication, called Cyanokit is needed to treat victims who inhaled cyanide poison as a result of the fire. The Brazilian health ministry put out a request for the drug and got it.

From the U.S. military, specifically the Southern Command.

Southcom Speeds Medications to Brazil for Nightclub Victims

The above link comes from the Department of Defense Public Affairs Office. And who reported this bit of altruism form the U.S. military? Damn few!

Reuters and AFP picked it up but a quick Google search shows NO U.S. news organizations carried the story. (The AFP story was seen in a Malaysia newspaper.)

Usually the U.S. military does a much better job publicizing its humanitarian work. The best example is the way SouthCom and the U.S. Navy 4th Fleet responded to the Haiti earthquake. (Military official: U.S. hospital ship in Haiti near capacity)

And then there are the numerous medical teams that go into remote areas of Central America to provide basic and intensive medical care to people who otherwise would not get ANY medical care. (I am going off to see one such operation this week.)

This is not a publicity space for the U.S. military, even though I think they often get a raw deal for their work in the Americas. (And yes, sometimes they deserve it for being tone-deaf in some issues. But by and large, the Pentagon understands the news media a lot better than the news media understand the military and they do a lot of really good work that helps a lot of people.a lot is because they are SOOO bad at doing publicity.)

The issue here is that no one in the United States is learning about the U.S. connection to help the fire victims. The medicine is made by a U.S. company (Pfizer) and it is being donated by the U.S. military.

There are so many local U.S. connections it is sad that not one U.S. news outlet picked up the connection.

  • Maybe the newspaper where the medicine was made could have done a story about how a local company helped survivors of a fire more than 3,000 miles away.
  • Or maybe some of the business journals could have picked up on the rare action of U.S. medicine coming into Brazil without having a 150 percent duty charged.
  • Maybe a story could have been done on the unusual step taken by the Brazilian government to admit that it needed outside help, especially help from the U.S. military. (This is a BIG deal.) 


But what else can you expect from an industry that more and more has been withdrawing from the world, with the exception of war or natural disaster.

Hell, one major network can’t even read a map. Notice how it misplaced Sao Paulo  by about 2,000 miles! About the same distance between San Francisco and Washington, DC. (If you don’t see the error, look it up yourself. You can start with: Sao Paulo is a coastal city and the industrial capital of Brazil.)


1 Comment

Filed under Connections, International News Coverage, South America, Story Ideas

One response to “If help comes and no one reports it, did it happen?

  1. Pablo Rivera

    Thank you for your article Dan. I feel the same way about this. Its pretty revolting to see how every wrong step made by a US service member is blaster all over US media but when our military does good deeds they are seldom reported.

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