Tuesday, September 13, 2005

OBJECTIVITY: In Katrina's coverage, did we see reporter's feelings?

Society of Professional Journalists: "At last, reporters' feelings rising to the surface
Journalism seems to have recovered its reason for being. As in the weeks after 9/11, news organizations have plunged into the calamity in New Orleans, with reporters chronicling heartbreaking stories under harrowing conditions in a submerged city. Suddenly, there were no more absurdly hyped melodramas like those of Natalee Holloway or Terri Schiavo, just the all-too-real drama of death and destruction left behind by a monster hurricane. But there were striking flaws in the coverage as well. For the first three days, few journalists mentioned what the pictures made glaringly obvious: that most of the victims of the flooding were poor and black. And in those early days, when reporters were as overwhelmed as anyone by the disaster's magnitude, they seemed more intent on hopscotching from disaster scenes to news conferences than in challenging the tragically slow government response. Only when the looting, fires, hunger, illness and squalid conditions in places like the Superdome became overwhelming did the coverage turn sharply negative and the reporters' questions more aggressive: Where were the buses, the planes, the food, the police, the promised troops? Where was the planning for a catastrophe that news organizations had been warning about for years?

Source: Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post"

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