Socolow writes piece for Boston Globe about Thai rescue coverage

Michael Socolow, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Maine, wrote an opinion piece for The Boston Globe about media coverage of the rescue of members of the soccer team trapped in caves in Thailand, and other “baby-in-the-well” stories. Coverage of the current event reflects a pattern of stories that recur historically, and includes Baby Kathy Fiscus in 1949 and Baby Jessica McClure in 1987, according to Socolow. While the facts change, they are almost irrelevant as the audience fixates on the story’s dramatic, emotional flow and inevitable outcome of either life or death. “It’s a story of survival — told to us in real time — that will hopefully culminate in relief and gratitude,” wrote Socolow. These stories weave together elements of live broadcasting, scripted suspense, and entertainment as well as journalism. “They’re undeniably thrilling but they also build community and make us realize that life and death and heroism and courage are all a daily part of existence.” The stories transcend technological and other changes in journalism and keep the audience engaged by focusing on the narrative. The column also was cited in a Columbia Journalism Review piece.