Refusing to Hear: Press Coverage of the Chilean Miners

The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners was, countless newspapers and magazines informed us, the “most triumphant” story of 2010. But it was also one of the most sophisticated and dexterous public relations campaigns ever mounted, one that executives will study for years.

Steven S. Volk

 

It was, countless newspapers and magazines informed us, the “most triumphant” story of 2010. The rescue of 33 Chilean miners in October, who spent 69 days trapped 2,000 feet underground after a tunnel collapsed, was broadcast live from the San José copper and gold mine near Copiapó, a provincial capital in the Atacama Desert, to a massive world audience. After weeks of suspense, the event was “inspirational,” “spectacular,” “captivating,” and “miraculous,” to quote just a few adjectives from the coverage.

As one of the millions who could not take their eyes off the rescue pod as it jerkily ascended, I can attest to feeling more than captivated. Having studied and lived in Chile for good parts of the last 40 years, I smiled, cried, and shouted with everyone else. Chi-chi-chi-le-le-le! Viva Chile!

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