Media Coverage of Titanic Submersible Tragedy Criticized as Migrant Shipwreck Overshadowed: ‘Ridiculously Wealthy More Valued?’

Many social media users are critical of mainstream news’ more substantial reporting on one tragedy over the other

Shipwreck survivors are transferred to a refugee camp near Athens on June 16, 2023 in Kalamata, Greece (Credit: Byron Smith/Getty Images)
Shipwreck survivors are transferred to a refugee camp near Athens on June 16, 2023 in Kalamata, Greece (Credit: Byron Smith/Getty Images)

As news came in this week of the missing OceanGate submersive — a tragedy that led to its five passengers’ presumed death Thursday, per an official statement from the Coast Guard — many online became critical of mainstream media’s emphasis on the tourist attraction’s fatalities in comparison to another tragedy at sea that unfolded just days before: the migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean that led to hundreds of lives lost.

Many took to social media and accused the 24/7 news cycle of catering more airtime to the Titanic submersible than they were to the hundreds of shipwrecked Egyptian, Pakistani, Syrian and Palestinian migrants off the coast of Greece while en route to Italy. Only 104 passengers survived the June 14 wreckage and over 500 remain missing.

“The role PR and journalism are playing in multiple countries deciding to come together to save billionaires on #OceanGate, while hundreds of migrants drowned, is sickening,” one Twitter user wrote on Thursday, just hours before the U.S. Coast Guard announced it believed the vessel’s passengers died following an implosion and confirmed sub debris. 

Reports of the migrant shipwreck began June 15, and the submersive was declared missing on June 18. While both events mark historic tragedies, many online raised concern that they were not given comparable news coverage in the following days. The debate picked up speed and was trending on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Although I am also guilty of paying close attention to the #OceanGate tragedy, I think it’s important to recognize the bias in our media,” said one Twitter user. Another pointed out the apparent imbalance of resources given to the group of men on the submersive compared to the hundreds of migrants. 

“Why did this Titanic OceanGate receive this much media coverage and global aid? Are the lives of the ridiculously wealthy more valued?,” they questioned.  

The victims on the OceanGate submarine included British businessman Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son, Suleman; French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet; and Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate. 

Read on to see more of the online debate, where Twitter users are taking today’s media to task.