German Media Supercharge Hyperbole And Drama In Wake Of Haiyan: Now Upgrading To “Climate Apocalypse”

Germans generally are very critical people, and when things aren’t exactly as they should be, they tend to get awfully bent out of shape over it.

Anything outside specifications quickly gets labeled by Germans as a “disaster”. And if it meanders beyond that, it gets labeled a catastrophe. Example: if Germany loses a World Cup football game, say 2 to 1, the game is immediately called a disaster. And should the German squad get trounced, say 3 to 0, then it is: a catastrophe.

Katastrophe” is one of the favorite words of the German media. It gets used all the time.

Anything that finds itself not in a normal state is automatically described as “catastrophic”. That’s just the way Germans are. And since global temperature has been 0.8°C above “normal”, it’s no surprise that Germans have called it the Klimakatastrophe (climate catastrophe).

And since then, every severe storm and weather anomaly has routinely been called a “catastrophe” by the media. All departures from normal weather are called “catastrophes”. But because there have been so many “catastrophes” lately, the word itself has lost all its psychological and emotional impact. The word catastrophe in Germany is literally worn out. That has become a real problem for the German media. Today using the word “Katastrophe” produces yawns from Germans. It has no effect at all.

So what are the German media to do now that the word catastrophe no longer delivers the desired punch?

No problem- since Haiyan struck the Philippines the German media have found a new replacement word with which to wow the audience: apocalyptic, or apocalypse. Over the last few days the German public have been bombarded by these two words everywhere in the German media. The apocalypse has arrived!

For example Spiegel here, never one to refrain from sensationalism, writes of “apocalyptic conditions” in the Philippines. So does the Sueddeutsche Zeitung here.

Naturally, when the big ones like Spiegel start employing hyperdramatics, the other media outlets are forced to follow. In today’s world of diminishing media credibility and audiences, it’s a question of bare survival. The race to out-hype is on.

The Austrian website here describes the Philippines as an “apocalyptic situation“. For the German media it seems the world is really coming to an end. Fanning the fans of fear and panic has become their top priority. FORMAT writes: “The dimension of Haiyan’s destruction is enormous.

The Ruhr Nachrichten here writes of the “storm’s apocalyptic dimensions“.

The online Berlin daily Berliner Zeitung here calls Haiyan the “apocalyptic horseman“.

That the media is no longer content with sticking to the usual words for describing disasters and feels it has to upgrade to the “Sensationalize Deluxe” media package likely has a lot to do with headline grabbing.

The disaster left behind by the Haiyan is a truly serious and newsworthy. Yet when one considers that its death toll is likely to remain well below 10,000 and that history has seen far deadlier storms, the language is way over the top. The media are behaving like desperate merchants on the last day of a disaster clearance sale.

People have lost their fear of climate overall, and when the data lack and fail to stir the desired emotions of fear, panic and general hysteria, then hyperbole and extreme drama have to be resorted to. This is the sorry state to which the German media have devolved.


9 responses to “German Media Supercharge Hyperbole And Drama In Wake Of Haiyan: Now Upgrading To “Climate Apocalypse””

  1. Ed Caryl

    I’m curious. What comes after apocalyptic?

  2. Casper
    1. DirkH

      Springer, the publisher who owns Bild, has a newspaper in Poland AFAIK. That might have an influence.

      BTW Pierre, very well written. Couldn’t have explained it better.

      And maddeningly, even though Germans do not even register the word catastrophy anymore, they obediently believe all that is given to them – CO2AGW, and they still believe that the EU and the Euro work or can be fixed; they didn’t even notice that their media is censored (see orders of the German presserat for details, it relates to EU hatecrime legislation; approx. since Lisbon treaty 2009), and so on and so on.

      Oh and they never noticed that at least up to 1990 their media was also censored . There was a law from military occupation times that prohibited reporting about war crimes by the allies. I have not checked whether it is still in force; but might be.

      1. DirkH

        …link to presserat orders:
        see paragraph 12.
        Consequence is that the ethnicity or, ahem, “social” group, of the perpetrator of a crime must not be reported.
        Similar rules exist in all EU territories.

  3. BobW in NC

    How sad (and maddening!). It reminds of the tale of the “boy who cried wolf.”

    With that perspective— I have a question for the German media (also applies to those in the US): What happens if there were to be a TRUE catastrophe (God forbid!) such as a meteor a mile in diameter slamming into the earth? What then?

    And as to the note that, “…All departures from normal weather are called “catastrophes,” it sounds as though a deviation from “normal” is one which exceeds a ±0.001 SD! (or less!)

  4. Mike Heath

    Apocalypse. For some reason the concept is present in most cultures. Is it just some built in fear, past experience or memory, or it could be that somehow we just know there will be an Apocalypse. Is there a fear that mankind itself will come to an end, even for the elitists who bought tickets for the 2012 Arks? And what does this mean? – Planet of the Apes perhaps.

    Interestingly, the most interesting films seem to explore these questions. From H.G.Wells, to Triffids, Survivors, 2012, Armageddon etc. Why is it so interesting? I think it is because it explores the meaning of life, which matters to everyone. That is, until the day they swallow the Atheistic world view and realise that there is no meaning in anything. Everything is then accidental, and humans (so they believe) are mutations of mutations of mutations.

    The questions around apocalype are really about the meaning of life.

  5. mwhite

    Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in 2008

    “and there have been allegations that government officials stopped updating the death toll after 138,000 to minimize political fallout.”

    I wonder how many people remember this disaster?

    Depends on the media coverage I suppose.

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