March of 1989 was a time when the evening news was much larger than it was today. Today the dissemination of information is on a minute-by-minute bases as information about an event as it is happening. In 1989 the vital information about events was distributed thought the evening news.
The Exxon Valdez hit the reef in the very earl hours of March 24th 1989. By the time that news was reported for the day the oil spill was already well underway. This allowed for more information to be gathered and shared within this new cast, but this was still only the first day of oil leaking and the knowledge about everything was limited.
While the knowledge surrounding what was happening within Prince William Sound was very small compared to what knowledge we have today the term ‘disaster’ was still being used. During this new cast it is opened with the line “it being called the worst oil spill ever in Alaska” this is powerful language to describe something that is less than 24 hours old. But yet this is the language that is surrounding disasters it either gets the title of disaster right away or it gets it weeks later.
Those who were the closest to the Spill started playing the blame game very fast and that is very prevalent within this sources. The “coast Guard said that it headed into an area it should not have gone” they were speaking about the Exxon Valdez Tanker. The Coast guard was protecting themselves by blaming those on the ship and the company. The company was not yet playing this game; instead they were just speaking the fact that they did not want the oil to travel any more that it had.
All over the news cast facts of this disaster were being said the ship is “losing oil”, the tanker “has lost 8 million gallons but the leaks have virtually stopped” and “wind is pushing a 5 mile oil slick into Prince William Sound”. These measurements and numbers about the oil are easy to give but hard to quantify for those who can not stand on the shore and look over the Sound and only see oil. These are huge number and the fact that this is less than 24 hours after the spill.
With all the facts being said there was also the facts about cleaning up the oil form the tanker, or what was still left inside of the tanker. In “18-24 hours oil will be unloaded onto the other ship “ and “ironically the other ship the Baton Rough is dumping oily bilge water to take on the extra load”. Speaking about the clean up process is something that is easy to do, but is something that can make people either very happy or very angry. This is something that could have gone either way and its hard to tell how people reacted to this because it was a news cast. But saying that the tanker that was on route to help with the spill was in fact spilling more oil into the sound is not something that very many people would see favourably. This kind of a situation lends itself to the quick and dirty way of cleaning up. Which at the time seems to be the best because they are cleaning some of the big mess but in that process they are just making more of a disaster.
In examining this report it gives us a good look as to what people were thinking at the time of this happening. The populations of the communities that were affected by the oil spill are small and sometimes in remote areas so it is difficult to get first hand knowledge about what is happening within these communities, but I will keep looking into the resources to try and find some.
The link to the news report: http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/march-24-1989-exxon-valdez-oil-spill-9699677