We arrived in Bali around the end of July, and the main volcano of the island, Mount Agung, started stirring. Not that you’d really know. Minor earth tremors, things of that nature. Needless to say, it’s been a slow build. Up until last week – that’s where things have really reached boiling point.
We had planned a road trip around the North East and as such, got some great views of the massive structure that stands around 3,000 meters above sea-level. And sea-level is kinda where this mountain starts. It’s incredible. The roads, all around it, just gradually go up and up and up.
Either way, being so close to this rumbling icon has put a spotlight on some pretty interesting aspects of reporting. And a couple of my pictures have been picked up by international media, to help support the narrative. For example, The Guardian, Daily Mail and Perth Now to name a few. As I write this, I’m talking with producers from the BBC Word Service Radio. It’s a seriously hot topic issue. Especially now the alarm level has been raised to the highest state of ‘4 – Eruption imminent’.
News is so slow to get out. You see a tweet indicating the alarms have reached a critical new high, only to realise it was a scheduled tweet to ensure this mornings link gets seen. So, no actual change. News media using various sources, being a little out of date. Then there’s mixed messages.
You also see messages for international tourists, saying no need for concern.
What I didn’t expect was to be labeled irresponsible. As in, me being irresponsible.
Here’s my initial tweet:
— Steven Wright (@regularsteven) September 20, 2017
From my tweet, I didn’t anticipate some of these replies. I take their point, but still caught me by surprise.
For me it was hard to to distinguish. People searching for #agung updates tend to panic quickly as it affects a lot of them. Be responsible
— Joris (@Jorusz) September 24, 2017
Don't spread fake news. Cheers from Bali
— Sébastien Lambla (@SebLambla) September 22, 2017
I get it. I didn’t exactly say what was going on. But I did was keep the tweet short and use two pictures to tell the story. I had – falsely – hoped that would demonstrate the activity with a picture. Equally, I didn’t say “LAVA Steaming down mountain”. Which, some people are absurdly doing. This type of event attracts headlines the hooks people in, and increasingly prank news (perhaps referred to as Fake News – this ain’t that).
Looking at media, reports of smoke, lack of clarity on the source of the smoke. It’s from the bush fires. In a broad sense, the mountain is a volcano, and there is smoke coming from it, but it’s misleading. Reports of monkeys running down the hills. Are they escaping the fires?
I’m not saying there aren’t causes for concern. But broader media – social and traditional – love to drum up a dramatic story. That was never my intention. I saw the beautiful volcano. It was a clear night. There was a fire burning.
The volcano under the starts had been a bucket list photo I’d been chasing since I arrived.
Have a look at the pictures below – many have been tweeted. You can see how images, with the right or wrong caption, can tell (or support) a different story.
Last up. Something that was level at me was the following. Have a look.
Hi, it has Lightroom edits, but not what I'd call crazy. Basic contrast, clarity and colour, but it's 1 frame. Here's b4 (as shot) & after pic.twitter.com/TmtKta6pJb
— Steven Wright (@regularsteven) September 24, 2017