Editorial: Let’s not make Harvey deliberately political

As the editorial board of The Bucknellian, we believe that the ongoing effects of Hurricane Harvey belong in conversations and discussions about the global impacts of climate change.

It is hard for us to deny that climate change exists. We live and learn in a community intricately connected to the Susquehanna River. The reality is that Hurricane Harvey, as significant and devastating an event as it may be, will probably not be a breakthrough. Harvey is not likely to push the nation nor our leaders towards a united stance on environmentalism.

Hurricane Harvey is to Trump as Hurricane Sandy was to Obama. In times of crisis, we expect our president to take the lead on our country’s response. Natural disasters have become coincidentally political.

But almost at the exact moment in which Harvey ran its course, we Americans shifted our efforts toward deliberately politicizing the event.

Media attention swirled on Aug. 27 around a University of Tampa professor’s tweet that Harvey was  “instant karma” because the state of Texas voted for Trump. According to the New York Times, 52.2 percent of Texans cast votes for the Republican candidate in the 2016 election.

What ensued in the days following Harvey was a back-and-forth of pointing fingers and blame-gaming. We would have preferred to see more unity in a time of turmoil. Politics made this event an “us versus them” moment.

We understand that reporters straddle a fine line between embracing too sentimental a tone and appearing callous or, worse, indifferent to the subject. Journalists are told to ask the right questions and present the facts.

It is not that these questions aren’t valid, but they don’t always get enough at why we should care. Reporting on the facts alone is not due diligence. Journalists are also storytellers. Press coverage needed to emphasize that Hurricane Harvey affected real people with real lives and real families who lost everything.

In The Bucknellian’s coverage of Harvey, we shared the stories of our own community’s volunteer workers, local businesses, and University staff who responded. Especially for a college publication, Harvey cannot be portrayed solely in the newsworthiness of the event itself.

Media should not only shape the humanity of the issue, but start conversations about providing legitimate aid and support to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Harvey. We choose to be a part of the narrative that focuses on raising awareness and providing relief to those most impacted than the narrative that uses Melania’s footwear as clickbait. 

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