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The wonders of nature: when disaster strikes in the public eye

Posted by: | November 4, 2014 | No Comment |


During the 16th century, pamphlet readers were exposed to a variety of content. This news often affected the readers themselves, or large groups of people elsewhere. One of the primary topics covered in this “developing news market” was natural disasters and other natural phenomena.

The instinctual fear and curiosity about the unknown would drive these readers to consume and push for an increasing number of these articles. They often covered natural events like floods and storms, but could also discuss astrological events such as eclipses.

One of the more devastating of these events during the 16th century was the All Saints Flood in 1570. Although there were inklings about the storms having a potential to cause serious damage, the citizens of these coastal towns could not have imagined the effects they would eventually cause. On November 1st, after days of continuous storms, the water levels rose to heights the levees couldn’t handle and the barrier began to crumble. The flood that followed was one of the worst in Dutch history, causing thousands of deaths and the loss of large amounts of homes, food and livestock that were needed for the winter.

Although this fascination with the power of nature developed early on in news reporting, it is still a topic that takes the public by storm today. Whenever there is a large scale natural disaster, be it a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, it is wildly covered and sensationalized by the media. Readers and viewers can’t seem to get enough of these stories because the power of nature is still something that we don’t fully understand and are unable to control.

under: Comm 455
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