Sunday, September 04, 2005

The MSM on Katrina

I found the Mainstream Media’s (MSM) reporting on Katrina to be a numbing bombardment of worn clichés. Of course, it isn’t surprising to find knee-jerk partisan swipes, collective guilt, something about Kyoto, and the inevitable playing of the race card. Without knowing the details (which I don’t have either) there are no shortage of experts who “just know.”

Almost all of the coverage of those trapped in New Orleans shows anger and belligerence. It’s presented in a manner to suggest that you too would be driven by despair to steal a plasma TV. More than one scene showed boastful looters (“look at what you’ve driven me to”) shamelessly demanding a timely delivery of entitlements (“too little, too late, try again”) with the media’s constant implicit motif: you too would be doing this. Do you see yourself in any of these pictures?

The odd thing is that it took until Friday night at 10:15 until I saw the untold story. Perhaps, I missed it before but I doubt it. On ABC’s 20/20 they showed how most people evacuated to other areas and were greeted with overwhelming support by extended family members or the kindness of strangers. I didn’t see any reports of a caravan of cars, 200 miles north of New Orleans, clustered at some point with people starving and demanding someone come and feed them. Americans are overwhelmingly generous and eager to help out in an emergency.

Aside from that moment, I’ve found most of the interesting comments on my list of bloggers that you’ll find on the column to the right. To single out one, consider Rancher (Llano Estacado). I like his approach – original commentary not found on the Mainstream Media.

Finally, let me say that I too wish to extend my sympathies to those who’ve been affected and displaced by this natural disaster. The vast majority is holding up well under the circumstance and will face tough challenges in the coming months.

Update: You might also want to consider Robert Tracinski's article.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy talk pablum on the news is exactly what the mainstream media has been feeding us for years and has subesquently turned us into a nation of uniformed zombies. The purpose of the news coverage has been to sound the alarm that people are dying and need help. And even with that, certain officials in charge of organizations set up to handle such emergencies apparently don't have information that we at home are getting simply by turning on our TVs. Now is not the time for feelgood folksy tales about the kindness of strangers, not with people dying on the flooded streets of American cities. It's called a crisis; you save the stories that make us feel good about ourselves for when it has passed. Our feelings or the image we want to have of our selves should be a secondary or lower priority when people are dying. You don't take time to make people feel good about who got out of a building on fire at the same time you should be trying to put the fire out.

9/5/05, 3:56 AM  
Blogger Alnot said...

The Intellectual activist article was excellent. A friend sent it to me Sunday morning. Your other recommendation was good enough to post a link to a New Orleans native friend who is marooned by work in Washington DC. I shall return to your most excellent blog again I hope.

9/5/05, 4:09 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks, alnot, do come back.

Jim, you have a point, the media can “sound the alarm” and be helpful. Still, I think it pays to show what’s working as well as what’s not. That’s part of being helpful.

Yesterday, I saw a cabaret owner in the French Quarter saying that they stayed and protected their establishments from looters, were minimally hit by the storm and as soon as electricity they’re ready to open. The reporter kept asking about what went wrong and who’s to blame; but the cabaret owner was having none of it. Still, the reporter seemed only interested in her opinion on who’s to blame. It doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be helpful.

9/5/05, 9:44 AM  

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