From Meredith Danton, editor, Miami Magazine (I'm an alum of University of Miami), Spring 2005:
When the amateur videos of the 30-foot wall of water that engulfed Phuket, Thailand, began flooding the airwaves, much of the world outside of Southeast Asia gained a tangible sense of what it would be like to be caught at the threshold of a tsunami. In the age of omnipresent camcorders and fits-in-your-pocket digital cameras, the documentation of random events in human history seems unfailing and remarkably detailed.
The breadth of destruction, the inconceivable loss of more than 160,000 lives, the stories of missing children and of remarkable acts of heroism - all of this becomes more real and provokes a greater call to action when witnessed in raw footage. Americans have donated hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief since the December 26 tragedy, a nod to the strength of the connection we have with our brethen half a world away. In this issue you'll read about David Douglas Duncan, a University of Miami alumnus who dedicated his career to building photographic archives of rare moments and landmarks in 20th-century life. [They also call Duncan a 'photo nomad']. His work evokes the kind of emotional response that transports the viewer in time and place. This perspective encourages us to learn from global events and take ownership of our roles in the human experience.
Similarly, School of Communication Associate Professor Sanjeev Chatterejee is helping to deepen our understanding of the global scarcity of clean water and the need for greater conservation and restoration endeavors. As part of The Water Project, he traveled to India a few weeks after the tsunami to investigate efforts to restore potable water and stop the spread of waterborne diseases. His firsthand account is published online at www.onewater.org.
Whether captured by vacationers or professional journalists, the images emblazoned on our television screens, magazines, and computer monitors serve both to inform us and strengthen our international compassion and cohesiveness. It may well be one of the greatest benefits of the information age.
[My two cents: Some of the most important stories happen after a tragedy. How do people continue on and rebuild and grow? And why stop at storytelling from vacationers and professional journalists - I'd love to hear from locals themselves.]