Opinion: The media’s coverage of the Titanic sub showed some lives are deemed more important than others

The nature of breaking news dominates headlines in such a way that the story is inescapable. Wherever you turn, TV, radio, social media or the local pub, it’s all anyone can talk about.

In June, the story that bombarded headlines and captured the imagination of the public – whether for the right or wrong reasons – was the news of a private submersible that had failed to return to the surface close to the wreckage of the Titanic.

On board the Titan submersible was Oceangate founder Stockton Rush, accompanied by three extremely wealthy paying passengers and the driver.

After failing to return to the surface, a rescue operation was underway led by the US and Canada’s coastguard, doing everything they could to search for signs of life.

Within the same week, a migrant boat crossing the Mediterranean capsised, killing up to 600 people as they made the dangerous voyage in search for a better life.

To make matters worse, the BBC has found evidence to suggest the Greek coastguard were slow in their efforts to rescue the migrants.

The reality is one story received 24/7 live updates, and was subject to international coverage to a captivated audience.

But, unfortunately, it was the wrong story.

This is not to say the fate of the Titan – which ultimately was found to have imploded, killing all passengers – was not tragic.

Of course, it was.

But mainstream media coverage was completely disproportionate between both stories that were making the news in the same week.

To be frank, it is clear why the Titan made more headlines. It’s rare, unusual news, feeding off the public’s obsession with billionaires coupled with the history and sad irony of the Titanic itself.

A key difference between stories is the Titan expedition was a choice and customers knew the risks. For migrants – it is a last resort, from a place of sheer desperation and fear.

The migrant crisis is a complex global issue that needs to be taken more seriously.

This means addressing the root of the issues that cause illegal migration with the same laser focus that was demonstrated by the coverage of the Titan.

It might not bring in the same revenue or clicks for news organisations but changing the topic of conversation will save lives by shifting public perception.

Lives, that in my book, are worth the same.

Image: A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina HC-130 Hercules airplane flies over the French research vessel L’Atalante during the search for the Titan submersible, June 21, 2023. US Coast Guard via Wikimedia Commons

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