This is way worse than 9-11. It seems likely that New Orleans is history, at least as a major city; it may remain as a name on a map, but no one will live there who has the resources to move somewhere else. Venice can survive; Amsterdam can survive. But no coastal city below sea level can survive in the hurricane corridor. Not in our present era of
global warming climate change. (What new euphemism will they come up with to deny what’s happening, now that Katrina has revealed the truth behind that one?)
Here are some links that I’ve found useful:
Boing Boing has a fascinating story about how our perceptions are shaped by the media. Two pictures, each of a person wading waist-deep in the flood waters, dragging a large plastic bag or box behind.
The images were shot by different photographers, and captioned by different photo wire services. The Associated Press caption accompanying the image with a black person says he’s just finished “looting” a grocery store. The AFP/Getty Images caption describes lighter skinned people “finding” bread and soda from a grocery store. No stores are open to sell these goods.
Sheila Lennon’s Subterranean Homepage News is maintaining good coverage of the disaster from a media perspective.
The Times-Picayune has been positively heroic. It’s only available online now, with staff working out of the LSU Journalism building.
Eric Berger’s SciGuy Science Blog has been an incredibly up-to-date source of accurate news about what, exactly, is happening since several days before the hurricane landed.
Doc Searls takes the broadcast media to task for their overwhelmingly dumb response to the tragedy:
This is the time for the mainstream media to ask good questions, and to provide those near and outside the areas with truly useful information.
We’re getting remarkably little of it from the people doing the interviews, the national reporters standing in front of the rubble. Larry King, who all but wrote the book on dumb softball questions, asks “old friend” Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour how many people died and how long it will take to rebuild. CNN’s often interesting Anderson Cooper delivers an obvious comparison to the recent Tsunami’s wreck of Sri Lanka. Like the pictures alone failed to make the same point. A couple days ago we watched Anderson stand in the wind and rain talking about the wind and rain.
And he lists four things we want to see on our sets:
Maps of what’s wrecked and what’s not. Specifics on roads, bridges, railroads. Truly detailed maps and static graphics are helpful. (CNN should be able to do better than this.) And spare us the crap like “The CNN.com video experience is optimized for Windows Media Player 9 or above.” If you have to show video, put it in a format anybody can watch.
The status of cities, counties, towns, parishes, schools, hospitals, military bases, government offices and other institutions. This is helpful to people looking to reach any of those places, or who wonder how people they know might be doing there.
Reports on where to turn on the Web for more complete information than TV can contribute. Lists of local and regional radio stations that are operative and providing useful information.
Relevant advertising. Now is the time to sell ads to public spirited advertisers who have useful and unsensational things to say to viewers.
The New York Times (free registration required) has finally, this morning, caught up with the disaster, in an issue that’s full of excellent reporting. Thy’ve also addressed the first of Doc’s points with an excellent map of the city, showing how the floodwaters are affecting different parts of it.
CNN has been the only mainstream news organization that’s stayed consistently on top of the story in their web coverage. Well-written stories, useful links. And I expect that if you’re able to view the video clips (I’m not, for some reason that I don’t currently have the time or inclination to debug), I suspect that it’s even better.
The only area in which I can see CNN falling down is in their Advertising Links. The screenshot to the right was taken this morning, just an hour or so ago. (As I am writing this, I checked their site again, and it seems that the advertising links are now a bit more appropriate.)