Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina Hype Can Help Wake Us Up

Bay area news outlets have done an exceptional job covering the tragedy in New Orleans and with good reason – it CAN happen here. Kudos. We’ve seen powerful images, good reporting and gripping headlines, like today’s CHAOS on the A-section of The Tampa Tribune and CITY OF SORROW on the front page of Thursday’s edition of the St. Petersburg Times. TBM's favorite piece is from the Trib's Steve Otto in a column headlined “A Sorrowful Warning From The Big Easy” in today's Metro section. (The super-sized columnist is better known for being a humorist/curmudgeon – as well as inspiring chili and guava lovers everywhere, but he showed his serious side here.) Otto painted a fair (meaning balanced) word picture of what happened (and didn’t) re: the disaster in New Orleans, but without the addled shrillness displayed by some of his colleagues. Plus, and more importantly, in his folksy, conversational way, he related The Big Easy's unfolding tragedy to our own highways and waterways. Otto closed with this warning:

“ … if we don't learn from this, if we don't make realistic decisions about housing and transportation in the event of another Katrina ... well, just look at the images in our newspaper and on television.”

TBM hopes those compelling images provoke an alliance of government and corporations (including Bay area media), as well as independent agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, into meeting NOW and re-assessing evacuation plans, especially as we move into the peak of hurricane season. Typing and griping isn't enough. Katrina coverage shouldn't be just about hype – it must be a wake-up call ...

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Monday, September 12, 2005 2:14:00 PM  

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