Magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan

I first read about the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan (it hit around 2:30pm on March 11, 2011 Japan time) through a release by the Associated Press. Soon after, I turned on the late night news. I was glad that my local CBS station carried live images from NHK. However, because it was the late night news, the coverage did not continue after the usual broadcast time. I do not have access to American cable channels, but I still wanted to watch some sort of broadcast. Unfortunately, the earthquake was not on continuous coverage on the news radio stations. Such began my search for broadcast information on the earthquake.

I tried first to find information from websites. However, since it was breaking news, anything that needed to be written and posted was going to take a while. I was able to read news about the earthquake from a Taiwan news site and learned that parts of Taiwan was under a tsunami warning. Refreshing some news websites also taught me that the U.S. west coast was no longer under a tsunami watch, but Hawai’i was under a tsunami warning. Later on, California would be added back onto the tsunami warning list.

As much as I was learning from various sites, I really did want to watch live coverage. A live broadcast would also bring in various journalists in different places and cover a wider range of information. What ended up working for me was the live stream of Al Jazeera’s English broadcast. I had read an article titled “Al Jazeera Hopes Reports From Egypt Open Doors in U.S.” in the NYTimes about Al Jazeera’s rising importance during the protests in Egypt. I thought Al Jazeera would be a great channel for information about the Middle East, but perhaps not for other areas of the world. However, I was really surprised by the broadcast. There were interviews with experts from other Asian countries and the United States. They also provided live footage from NHK’s English service with translations of reports from Japanese officials. I probably will not rely on Al Jazeera for my daily news, but now I have somewhere to turn in the event of breaking world news.

I’m still a bit sleep deprived from a night (and day) of following the news. The tsunami warnings and subsequent damage in areas other than Japan are really minor compared to the damage in Japan. Recent news about problems at the nuclear power plants and more earthquakes is unsettling. My hope is that Japan can stay safe and recover well. My heart goes out to those who have lost (or are finding) friends and loved ones. All our thoughts are with you.

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