Trapped Chilean Miners survived on mere hope

Posted: October 17, 2010 in COM 101 current issues

“They had two teaspoons of tuna fish, a sip of milk and half a biscuit each every 48 hours”

The miners have been trapped since Aug. 5 after a landslide caused the copper and gold mine to collapse.

The rescue of 33 miners trapped deep underground in Chile for 10 long weeks sped towards a successful finale on October 13th with two-thirds of the men winched to safety, triggering joy around the world at their improbable salvation- brought to the surface in a narrow, missile-like capsule dubbed the Phoenix to symbolise their “rebirth.”

“I have changed, I am a different man,” said Mario Gomez, the ninth to be rescued and, at 63, the oldest of the group.

A team of six rescue specialists had been sent down to the miners to help them get harnessed in the Phoenix capsule.

All the men were pale, and wore special dark sunglasses to protect their weakened eyes from the natural light. Many tasted freedom overnight, stepping out of the rescue capsule to breathe in the cold air of the Atacama desert.

They were immediately taken to a field hospital at the mine for tests.

Flash back…a narrow escape.

Living in hope, miners were told it will take at least four months to rescue 33 miners trapped underground in Chile.

However, rescuers made contact with the miners by lowering a probe into the mine, 17 days after the men became trapped. Rescuers provided them with clothes, medicine, antidepressants and games down the 700-metre borehole, which has the diameter of a grapefruit, to help keep the men physically and mentally fit.

The miners forced themselves to lose about 10kg each after having survived on half a glass of milk and two mouthfuls of canned tuna every 48 hours until supplies ran out. They have been told to watch their weight so they will be able to squeeze through the narrow escape shaft that is being drilled, and given tape measures to ensure they keep their waists below 90cm.

The men sent samples of water from underground tanks to the surface for testing, and rescuers sent down fortified mineral water.

The miners maintained good health, but officials continuously looked for ways to help ease the psychological pressure. They set up special lighting in the tunnel to mimic night and day, with dull red lights to help the miners sleep.

Miners have used vehicle batteries to power lights and charge their helmet lamps.

The miners and their relatives exchanged letters through the shaft.

“You have no idea how much my soul ached to have been underground and unable to tell you I was alive,” Edison Pena said in a letter to his family.

Officials were vetting letters sent by relatives, to avoid any shocks, although some disagreed with the method.

“It’s very important for the miners’ mental health that they communicate openly with their families, and without filters, either by letter or by phone,” said Claudio Barrales, a psychologist at the Universidad Central in Santiago.


The power of Media…

The media has turned the accident in the small gold and copper mine which has gripped audience globally, a spotlight on mine safety in Chile, the world’s top copper producer. Moreover, it also serves as a reminder of the dangers of working in a mine.

The media blames the mine company, Companie Minera for not complying with the safety regulations- it had failed to install an escape ladder that would have led them quickly to the surface. San Esteban knew that in the event of a collapse, there was no emergency way out. Chile’s Minister for Mining, Laurence Goldborne, says the men would have escaped in 48 hours had the ladder been available.

Sixteen miners had already died in accidents at the San Jose mine before the recent collapse. Since San Esteban ignored an order to install the escape ladder, the miners should be able to expect huge compensation for their ordeal.

Relevance to class discussion…

The story of trapped Chilean miners is a form of communication which institutional sources address relatively large, heterogeneous and anonymous audiences physically separated from one another, also known as mass communication.

According to Charles Wright the purpose/function of this narration is to inform (surveillance) the audience of the happenings on the mine fields, the dangers and risks involved, and  of course to take measures to prevent such accidents from happening by taking this issue seriously, by looking into reinforcing safety regulations.

This can also be further explain by the Moderate effects communication model– whereby it is believed that the ability of the media to influence its audiences remains- media is not powerless, it still exerts some influence on the audience, for such gaining the audience sympathy and empathy, and getting them to relate to such dangerous working conditions of miners- and eventually getting personally involved to help resolve such problems is the media’s ultimate goal.

The media has conveyed its message successfully, because this story has touched the hearts of many given that millions around the world watched the rescue live, expertly engineered by the Chilean government. In the US, almost 11m people watched the start of the rescue on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC – almost six times the cable news stations’ usual audience.

The success of the story is accomplished by the Agenda setting function- which refers to the media’s ability through repeated news coverage, to raise the importance of an issue in the public’s mind.  True enough the news is on the front page of every news article globally and locally, making the headlines on e-news as well, hence the importance is very much emphasized through repetition.  Furthermore the media is also very influential in this case because the public does not have any direct experiences with the issue addressed by the media, hence making in an unobtrusive issue.

So what do you think about the power of media? Is it influential? How does this story impact you?

How media does changes your life? Do you easily get influenced by the media?

Or do you just filter the important information, making your own judgments and conclusions and not solely depending on the media?

  1. Jaspreet Singh Narula says:

    This one of the most shocking incidents that i have ever come across. 33 men trapped for 10 weeks!Feeding on just two teaspoons of tuna fish, a sip of milk and half a biscuit each every 48 hours is not something to overlook. I honestly salute the brave 33 men whom today have been rescued as they didnt give up hope.For someone to be put in such a predicament, it is without doubt, impossible to stay sane. If i were in such a situation, i would be both mentally and physically broken,but i would think about my loved ones and assure myself everything is going to be alright. I am positive, that was the thing that kept them strong.That was the thing that made them not loose hope. To me, that is what you call a hero. Also the Chilean government was extremely noticed in this incident known to not give up hope on their citizens.Regarding your question on what do i think about the power of the media. Personally i think the power of the media is not always right. Not everything what the media says is true. The media likes to play with their viewers minds. Am not talking about this incident. Other incidents such as how the media has made Muslims in countries such as Afghanistan,Iraq and Iran known to be extremists. The media knows how to play with peoples minds. They enforce it.They will show you an image of somebody from a different racial background and then they will show you an alternate image straight away of something completely different. They do not tell you that the images are together, they present it to viewers asking,what do you think?Such as they would show you the country of Iran and then within a split of a second,they will show you an explosion.Thats what they do,they convince us that things are not what we think they are.They just keep showing violence as they know what the viewers want to see. Therefore I beleive the media is a powerful source to convey message and influence the minds of the public, however we should not solely rely on the media since biasness is always present- hence we should be selective in what we take away from the media.

    • soni1220 says:

      True, we should be selective in what we choose to take away from the media. We should treat media news like wikipedia- just browse through it for the content, but not rely fully on the source- instead turn to other more reliable sources or confirm with many sources to eliminate degrees of biasness and uncertainties presented in medias.

      • soni1220 says:

        To add on to jaspreets comment, The media can be very manipulative because it has rating quotas to fulfill. So with that, they hardly show what normal citizens of Iran are doing or how beautiful the country is. As to them those people are boring and not the limelight, and hence the news won’t sell much. They rather show extremists and explosions. But yet again, the media is like a double-edge sward, in this case for instance the media has done an exellent job in calling attention upon the appauling conditions of miners, but again filtering through the news and and confirming it with other sources is a must to eliminate any sources of uncertainties and biasness.

    • Arthur says:

      I so agree with you!First,kudos to the Chilean government who helped their own citizens.I would be proud to be a Chilean.Secondly,i agree with Jaspreet that the media plays with people’s minds.Yes,without the media,man would be lost in darkness and alone.but bare in mind on how the media has made muslims all look like extremist.infact,anyone who just utters the word bomb in airports are considered to me linked to terrorists.with that the media has corrupted minds.but what are we without the media.

  2. suhel manchanda says:

    Newspapers, TV channels, Radio, Internet all have been shouting out loud on 15th October 2010, the day of relief, chilean miners get a re-birth. Media power have so much of influence in our lives that we actually glue ourselves infront of TV news channel to watch CNN or BBC the first thing in the morning. we keep track of all news and events around the world just like TV series on Fox channels. This shows how media power influences us…

    From weather reports to stock market crash all available like the breaking news of the day. Chilean miners who have been trapped in 69 days or 10 long-halt weeks, have been anticipating for their release. Chilean government have set an example to the world that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. 1500 news reporters all setting their eyes on one agenda the release of miners. It shows how strongly we have been waiting for the news. Family, friends, relatives and officials all waiting for the news whats next!. finally the first trap miners appears on the surface showing the success of rescue, and likewise all 33 miners were rescued in the same manner. Moreover, the trapped miners have been offered TV endorsements after their recovery. We can see the strong power of media. How they can influence normal people to react towards a news! Overnight celebrities!! From a local miner who was known just for his daily mining has turned into heroes. On one side miners have been endangered into toxic gases deep down 700 meters and the other side news reporters have turned the issue into TV serial drama for their TRP. So we can decide how easily we can into the news with the power of media.

    The news channel reports what the public wants to hear,see and comment. News channel does exactly in detail about the news. CNN or BBC leading Internationals news channel gets to the core of the news around the world. I must say they are reliable source of news, but whats left is the public judgement! like they say there are 2 sides to the coin.

    • soni1220 says:

      I think its bit of everything when we filter the news, we try to analyse the stories discuss about it or probably ignore after sometime. On the brighter side someday somehow stories turn around it can be one of us in that situation like the miners so never say i dont care. Always keep track of news and do show concern or empathy but not overreact over the situation.

  3. D'perfecto says:

    I picture “media” as one’s best friend. Any information, details, gossips or scoops from this best friend is very believable and tempting to trust. However, not always is the media right. I agree with Jaspreet that the media plays with people’s mind. If it doesn’t, why does the audience thinks and believes that India has done a rather bad job in the Commonwealth games? There hasn’t been ONE positive comment when the bottom line is that – India made it at the end of the day. Why do celebrities have their career and personal relationships at stakes whenever the media brings out a personal detail regarding that celebrity?

    No doubt that the media keeps us on track of the news and important issues occurring in the world. But it isn’t always right. And yes, they are very influential..

  4. Khushi says:

    Hi there! Yet another interesting article! I must agree with D’perfecto with his description of media.. Hahahaha.. And it’s rather amusing too.. Anyway, back to the topic.. Yeapp the media is good and bad in its own way.

    However, I’m considering rules and regulations a certain country may have upon its freedom of speech before a journalist publishes an article. For example, in Singapore, despite the freedom of speech, journalists are not allowed to write anything relating to racial factors, anything against its government etc.

    Yes Jaspreet, they are extremists. Yes Suhel, they are important however, their exreminism outweighs their benefits.

    When a journalist writes down his or her opinion of a certain country or certain group of people, it indirectly forces its’ audience to believe in them because we as audiences have nothing else to refer to.

    The media is defintely extremists and is important as well.. To conclude in one sentence, Media outweighs its’ benefits..

  5. K.T says:

    Hi! Interesting article. =)

    I notice a common phrase “popping” in the comment page. “The media is extremists”. Yes, I do agree too. In fact, I believe that to an extend, the media has a hidden power to sway its audience into what only THEY believe.

    For example, When President Johnson unleashed American bombers on North Vietnam in 1964, he did so only after the media had helped him sell to Congress a cock-and-bull story that Communist gunboats had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam. On the basis of this lie, the greatest bombing in history followed, legitimising the American invasion and the carnage of the next ten years, in which at least 3 million people were killed.

    During the Falklands War in 1982 ­ Margaret Thatcher’s war a plan put forward by Peru for a negotiated settlement with Argentina came close to success; how close the public never knew. On 13 May 1982, Edward Health told News at Ten that Argentina had requested three minor amendments to the peace plan. The amendments were so minor, said Heath, that they couldn’t possible be rejected. But Thatcher rejected them, and the story died.

    The media is responsible for both- reflecting values of a society and creating new ones to a good extent. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ goes an old proverb. It has been proved over and over again since the advent of writing and development of media. Media today consists of books, television, movies, music, internet, radio, magazines, newspapers etc. Each of them have evolved as a powerful medium in their own right.

  6. soni1220 says:

    Totally agree- We live in a society that depends on information and communication to keep moving in the right direction and do our daily activities like work, entertainment, health care, education, personal relationships, traveling and anything else that we have to do.

    A common person in the city usually wakes up checks the tv news or newspaper, goes to work, makes a few phone calls, eats with their family when possible and makes his decisions based on the information that he has either from their co workers, news, tv, friends, family, financial reports, etc.

    Like what Jaspreet has mentioned, the media simple enforeces it..

    Side traking a little, media has also been playing a major role in youth’s biggest health issues today; smoking, drugs, violence, sex, eating disorders etc.

    The influence of media is great and it can do more harm than good.

    Here’s an interesting fact before I end my comment – A child is exposed to about 40 000 advertisements a year because of the media.

  7. Rumpy says:

    This is one of the most shocking articles i have ever brought tears to my eyes as i watched the news on how the miners were brought out.they truly are remarkable.they waited so long to be rescued and they were.The Chilean government deserves full credit on this massive rescue.

  8. Jeevan says:

    I do too agree that the Chilean government was amazing at this rescue and that the news agencies covering this situation were amazing on keeping viewers and readers up to date.However i do say that the news can be corrupted at times.Not regarding this isssue but genarally.As they do not see what is the truth but they just publish what people want to hear and read.Now that is not ethical.But without the news, we will not know what is going on in the world today.

  9. Rumpy says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes as i watched the news.First of all congrats to the miners who were saved.They are heroes.they never gave up nor did they give in.The media did a very well job in covering this story on the miners.The Chilean government are amazing that they never gave up hope on their citizens.Regarding your question if i find the media influential or not?i think the media is very important,however the media does screw up at times that their screw up lives forever.Example today if you are a muslim and you are near a group of Caucasians,they would give you the title of a terrorist. Thats all because of the position the media has given from 9/11.However without the media one would be lost in the world.I guess do have their goods and bads.

    • KDH says:

      The media plays an important role in our world today. However, it usually also brings in the journalist’s opinions in the article.

      If the question is if the media is important – my answer is yes.. It’s very very important.

      If the question is if the media is always right – my answer is no. It brings in a lot of perception, confidentiality of a certain fact (rules by the country to prevent freedom of speech), errors in printing etc.

  10. ssm says:

    Take it any country afghanistan, africa, south america etc, all derserve equal human rights, but the media power overshadows the developing nations incidents or tragedies. If it was to be United Kingdom or United states media would be worshipping or probably on the world news 24 7. Its more like they are the Gods! whats your say?

  11. Poonam says:

    Time to wake up, news channels have been completely turning our lives into one sided track mind. Manipulative I would say in twisting our mind frame around. Miners or citizens should not be an act of endorsement but rather sympathy and moral support in their professions for what they do.

  12. Eddie says:

    A very interesting inference is drawn between the trapped Chilean Miners that survived on mere hope and the media.
    The outstretched arm of the media is definately very powerful and its gd that they emphasized the importance of safety measures.
    In our current knowledge base economy, media is definately is very influential.

  13. Sruti says:

    Media is definitely the most powerful medium of communication in this century………We all are so heavily influenced by it and feel dysfunctional if we don’t have access to the same. However, media can also make one biased and set pre conceived notions. Sometimes, the stories are overhyped and create unncessary chaos. But, still it keeps us aware of the latest happenings around the world. Nevertheless, it was disheartening to read the article about the miners. Definitely some step should be taken. Interesting articles are posted in this blog and to think of it this is one form of media and the whole point that we are discussing about this article here shows the impact of media on us!!!!!!!Keep up the good work…:)

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