2 miners and a hole in Tasmania

May 22, 2006 9:19 AM

By now the whole world has probably heard of the two miners who were trapped for 2 weeks underground when the mine they were working in, collapsed as a result of an earthquake. But the rest of the world would probably not have the story suck up what felt like 100% of air time on local television and radio.

Heroes? Heroes do heroic things. All these miners did were sat in a cage for 14 days and waited to be rescued. No I do not want the same thing happening to me and I couldn’t imagine it if it did. But the true heroes are the team of rescuers who dug them out. I would call the miners lucky but I wouldn’t call them “heroes”.

As mentioned previously, the media circus surrounding this event was truly that. And now we have heard that they were paid AUD$2.6 million by Channel 9 for an exclusive interview which aired last night. There’s even a planned trip overseas for media interviews in the US.

$2.6 million is a lot of money but the interview couldn’t have possibly revealed anymore of the story that we haven’t heard during those 14 days prior to their rescue. Every cliche imaginable had been thrown at it. As Jonathan Green says in The Age, “We’d heard most of it before“:

What we got was not much more than what any spectator informed by the exhaustive coverage that preceded last night’s much-hyped denouement might have reasonably imagined to be the case.

For $2.6 million, all Nine could add was the sometimes compelling novelty of a first-hand account, an account offered by two men whose way was not with words, two men telling a story that had already been told and told and told.

Also commented by Jack Marx in his blog in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Tracy Grimshaw [of Channel 9] struggling for two hours to give form and drama to a tale that was basically about sitting around and waiting, an experience the miners themselves repeatedly referred to as “hard to describe”.

Marx ended his post with a damning view of the Australian media:

On the very same day that the Beaconsfield miners escaped from their pit, three Torres Strait Islanders, lost at sea in a dingy for 22 days during Cyclone Monica, turned up in the waters off Far North Queensland, hungry, a lot lighter, but very much alive.

No talk of books or movies, no syrupy poetry, no media stampede, not a “hero” in sight.

Perhaps we might have been more enthusiastic if the Torres Strait Islanders had a hole in their boat.

Or if they were white? Hmm.

I hope at least that part of the windfall that the miners get from all this, would go back to their community, especially to the families of the rescuers and that of the almost forgotten dead miner who died on the very first day.

Added 2:57PM:
Islanders’ great escape. 10/05/2006. ABC News Online.
Torres Strait sea rescue an ‘act of God’ – Breaking News – National – Breaking News
This was not widely reported and it took some digging to find. For foreign news links about this, they are listed in Jack Marx’s post above.

12 thoughts on “2 miners and a hole in Tasmania

  1. mooiness Post author

    CW: my news comes from the net – TV is mostly for entertainment. 😉

    Cynthia: have edited your comment – it was a tad insensitive, and the comparisons you made between this story and NYC/Bali were inappropriate.

  2. ian

    Ugh! Tell me about it… All the overrated hype for nothing worth re-telling! I have noticed this trend from the Australian media since the day I began to read the news here. There are so many other incidents to cover and they choose to splurge the front pages with headlines involving news that can be boringly stale. Take for example the Bali 9, Schapelle Corby and the Singaporean execution incidents. Too much drama forcefully extracted out into a thick book from a meaningful script of merely two-pages.

  3. Christina

    I don’t really have a care for the miners, but I do get annoyed at how they’re being called heroes. Sitting in a cage doesn’t qualify for being a hero. If it was, then all the animals in the zoo would be heroes for simply being in a cage.

  4. mooiness Post author

    ian: the examples that you’ve mentioned are different to this case where the miners were actually offered money for an exclusive interview. But I understand what you mean by the over-dramatisation of the real stories.

    Christina: true that. Uncomfortable for sure but they had rescuers actively trying to get them out – the ones lost at sea had to rely on their own wits.

    Loong: yeah personally, I think the Torres Strait Islanders’ stories would have been more fascinating. The miners had food and iPods lowered into their cage for chrissake!

    Herman: oh yes, so speaketh the cynical one in me. 😉

  5. simplysiti

    I do agree with you when you say that the media did give too much attention to the whole Beaconsfield fiasco.

    I agree that more attention should be devoted to covering stories such as the situation in Darfur, the Federal Budget and all that stuff. I agree with the possibly inappropriate us of the label, ‘heroes’.

    But, I still think that that should not be an reason to disregard the issues that this incident raise. For example, issues about workers’ safety, how fragile communities like Beaconsfield are because they are dependent on such high-risk industry like gold mining and the role of workers union.

    These miners were not in a ‘cage’ for leisure. They were working on a public holiday i.e. Anzac Day because their livelihood depends on such a high risk occupation.

    There may be too much hype. But there are still important issues that must be addressed. 🙂

  6. mooiness Post author

    siti: agreed, am just addressing one very specific aspect of this incident and that is the role of the media. Anything else would take too long of an argument. 😉

    smashp0p: you bet. only just started to die down a bit.


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