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When devastating floods hit Australia this month, it dominated the news coverage. When Brazil’s floods started not long after, the news coverage was minimal, to say the least. Why? Is this a UK problem? We are culturally closer to Australia than Brazil, of course. But no – a quick look at Google trends shows that the Australian bias was across the news internationally.

Australia in red, Brazil in blue

Google trends comparing Australia floods to Brazil floods

Google trends comparing Australia floods to Brazil floods | Source: Google

There was a brief point where Brazil – the blue line – goes over the Australian one, but that is it.

Although it is morbid to equate deaths to newsworthiness, the Brazil death toll of 700+ far outweighs the Australian toll of less than 100 (17 so far, 60 or so missing).

Is Brazil a tiny country with little news impact? No. It’s the world’s 8th largest economy, bigger than Australia in 13th place. Both countries are important in terms of world resouces. They are quite similar in geographical size. Here are the numbers.

The big difference is in GDP per capita. Brazil has 195m people to Australia’s 21.5m – and at $9,000 GDP per capita to Australia’s $53,300, it’s simply a lot poorer – more than five times poorer in fact.

And at their search peaks, “Australia floods” was 4.8 times more popular a search term than “Brazil floods”. Go figure.