We've seen this all our lives, and as far as I can tell, it's a practice followed by media all over the globe. But every time I see it, my skin crawls. This morning on CBC: "Canadian death toll in Haiti rises to 8".
In the pre-internet era, I might have thought local-death-toll reportage was a USian thing. "Earthquake in India, 50,000 dead, including 3 Americans! Five New Yorkers trapped in Mumbai airport!" But now that we can easily see media from everywhere, I know that everywhere does it.
I've watched less than five minutes of TV news in the last few months, but I did catch a few seconds of Canadians who were recently evacuated from Haiti being interviewed from Montreal. They were describing waiting at the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, listening to the screams and cries of Haitian survivors outside the gates. These Canadians knew how lucky they were, and I don't begrudge them their rescue. But that gate - separating the rescued from the trapped - is a symbol of so much that's wrong with the world. And "8 Canadians killed in Haitian earthquake" is another symbol of it.
At bottom, it comes down to this. The deaths of "our" people are more noteworthy than the deaths of "their" people, because we are more important than them. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands - those are mere statistics. But one Canadian that can be interviewed at an airport is a human-interest story.