Chilean Mine Collapse An Engineering Failure, Not a Communications Disaster

The absence of heavy-handed, professional PR crisis management allowed international journalists to report relatively unhampered on the collapse of a Chilean mine and subsequent rescue of its 33 trapped miners, according to a commentary in an Austrian public relations journal.

Journalists from around the globe who quickly converged on the mine site focused on the technical and personal aspects of the rescue. Their work was facilitated by access to images and sound of the trapped miners provided by the Chilean government after it assumed responsibility for the rescue.

The handling of media relations struck a “perfect balance between control and lightness of touch,” the commentary says, perhaps owing to the broadcast experience of President Pinero, former owner of Chilevisión.

The fact that mining safety concerns have clearly been ignored by the Chilean government did not become the focus of international reporting. Nor was there an international corporation behind the poorly-maintained mine for the media to identify as the villain of the disaster, as happened in the case of the BP oil spill last summer.

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