NewsNation tastelessly counts down to Titan’s doom

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NewsNation has taken cable news’ countdown concept to a new — very low — level.

As the Titan submersible lost near the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean gets closer to when experts believe it will exhaust its oxygen supply, the network is running a countdown of how much oxygen is “remaining.”

That means the network is essentially counting down to an educated guess as to when the occupants of the sub, if still alive, would be put in an even more perilous position that would likely lead to their death.

Put another way, it’s essentially a countdown to death or, at the very least, when the occupants would likely start to feel even more impending doom.

Casting aside the questionable judgment of essentially using the death of these people as a marketing gimmick to keep eyeballs glued to screens, the box isn’t even accurate.

As shown, the countdown is labeled as “Oxygen Remaining” and then lists hours, minutes and seconds. 

Strictly speaking that should really read something along the lines of “time until oxygen supply runs out,” because an amount of oxygen can’t necessarily be defined by a period of time.

That said, many underwater divers do refer to oxygen supply levels using times.

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NewsNation also appears to be using the announced estimates as to when the oxygen supply in the Titan is expected to run out as the “end” of its countdown. This, in turn, was based on when the operations team switched over to the internal oxygen supply.

However, it’s worth noting this was only an estimate and the exact amount left could vary depending on a variety of factors, including the condition of the vessel, health of the occupants plus potential margin of error.

It’s also worth noting that, even if the oxygen supply does run out exactly when the countdown hits zero, experts have said that occupants could still potentially survive past that point — so it’s not as if everything just “stops” at that point of time.

NewsNation’s use of seconds makes a great visual, but also further compounds both the distastefulness and questionable accuracy of the device.

Earlier in the week, the network was airing a “countup” listing the days since the last communication with the vessel in the DD:HH:MM:SS format. 

This graphic was decidedly less offensive — since it wasn’t essentially counting down to doom or death.

It also was much more accurate — since there is a precise date and time, down to the second, when the submersible was last heard from. 

TV and cable news have long used on-screen countdowns for a variety of purposes — ranging to when polls close to when storms hit landfall to deadlines for political, labor or financial issues.

While all of these implementations have varying levels of newsworthiness vs. serving more as a way to keep viewers rapt, most are at least accurate and don’t carry as much of a sense that someone is waiting with baited breath for something that will ultimately lead to death or doom.

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