COMMENTS: Single Child in Shoddy School

Earthquake coverage from China's Sichuan Province saw CBS' Celia Hatton in the city of Mianyang; ABC's Neal Karlinsky split his time between Wudu and Hanwang; NBC's Ian Williams was in Hanwang. Karlinsky called Hanwang "a bustling metropolis of misery" while Williams checked apartments, offices, a hospital "all collapsed." Williams showed us "numbed parents" sit in silence on a bank across a small creek as bodies were extracted from the rubble of a school. He noted that China's one child policy was "intensifying the pain;" Hatton called it "a tragedy magnified."

Mark Mullen, NBC's man in Beijing, saw the news media operating "like never before. China is broadcasting reality TV, 24/7 coverage of the devastation, the bloody injured, the homeless and the profound grief." He contrasted it with the downplaying of previous crisis, such as the secrecy that surrounded a 1976 earthquake that killed 240,000 or the denial about the epidemic of SARS in 2004 or the recent censorship of independence protests in Tibet. He even heard "straight talk from Premier Wen Jinbao." The angle CBS' Hatton picked up on was the school collapses: "The Chinese people are pushing their own state media to investigate why so many schools were badly constructed."


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