How Soon Will West, Texas Be Forgotten?

Mike Elk

The April 18 fertilizer plant explosion In West, Texas. (Erich Schlegel/Getty Images).

On Fri­day, as cable news net­works sought des­per­ate­ly to fill air­time while wait­ing for the lat­est news in the after­math of the Boston bomb­ings, a friend asked me, How come there’s no man­hunt for the own­er of the Texas fac­to­ry, which did far more dam­age than the Boston bombers?” He was right to wonder.

The explo­sion of the West Fer­til­iz­er Com­pa­ny plant on April 17 in West, Texas, killed 14 peo­ple, injured more than 160 and destroyed dozens of build­ings. Yet unlike its fel­low tragedy in Boston, the Texas plant explo­sion began to van­ish from cable TV less than 36 hours after it occurred. Mar­quee cor­re­spon­dents like Ander­son Coop­er were pulled out of West and sent back to Boston, and lit­tle air­time was spared for updates from Texas, even as many near­by res­i­dents remained unac­count­ed for. The net­works seemed to decide cov­er­ing two big sto­ries was cov­er­ing one too many, as if we jour­nal­ists can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. The media’s neglect has great­ly increased the dan­ger that the explo­sion will quick­ly be for­got­ten, to the detri­ment of U.S. workers.

Read the rest at the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Mike Elk wrote for In These Times and its labor blog, Work­ing In These Times, from 2010 to 2014. He is cur­rent­ly a labor reporter at Politico.
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