This past Monday, at the height of the afternoon rush-hour, my son called to tell me he was stuck on the Washington DC Metro, in a stopped train, hearing rumors that there was a train accident up ahead. I immediately got in my car to drive into the District to pick him up, and as I drove I began to hear news reports on the radio of a disastrous scene unfolding. (My son's train was only a few hundred yards from the accident, and heading in that direction.)
As of this writing, there have been nine fatalities and 76 injuries, two of them being critical. I looked for this information on several websites, but because the news cycle was right at 24 hours old, it was difficult to find. I did however find many stories on the passing of Ed McMahon, entertainer, long-time Johnny Carson sidekick and Publisher's Clearing House check distributor. (Ironically, I was able to find the information about the Metro disaster on the Los Angeles Times website.)
This morning as I was driving into work, I was listening to WTOP, an all-news station in the Washington, DC area and most of the news was about Ed McMahon, rather than about the Metro disaster. A great entertainer dies and the country mourns. Nine people die and... well you get my point.
Interestingly, the same thing happened in 1997 when Princess Dianna and Mother Teresa died within five days of each other. The news coverage for a woman who literally lived in a king's palace went on and on. At the same time, a humble servant who lived among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India got barely a mention.
Who will remember the names of the victims in a month, or even next week? Will the inconvenience of a subway line being shut down while the investigation continues move people to compassion or just to complain?