After analyzing news coverage dating back to before Katrina hit, we will dispel the common myth that Katrina was unpredictable… News coverage has clearly warned the public that New Orleans is sinking, its wetlands are receding, its levees are poorly engineered, its evacuation routes are lacking, and the government refuses to fund projects that would protect the city and its people.
Time Magazine facts- New Orleans is already an average of 8ft below sea level. It has been sinking as much as 3 ft a century. Adding to this problem- sea levels worldwide are rising as much as 3ft a century due to global warming. The lower to city plunges, the worse off it is when a storm hits. News coverage has continually restated this fact- that New Orleans is sinking. New Orleans is sinking for 2 reasons: the first reason is because of the receding wetlands…
The Louisiana coast is losing 16,000 acres of wetland each year mostly as a result of population expansion, oil and gas drilling, population growth, and land loss through lack of sedimentation. Wetlands are a key natural barrier to hurricanes, every 2.7 miles of wetland absorbs a foot of storm surge. As the wetlands recede, the effects of hurricanes become more and more devastating. The newspaper articles here clearly spell out the dangers of the disappearing wetlands. While this is one reason that New Orleans is sinking, the other is due the levees…
The levees are designed to protect new Orleans from water surges but they have instead created adverse results. They have stop the necessary flooding of the Mississippi river which in turn stops the process of sedimentation- the way the soil naturally replenishes itself. As a result, New Orleans is sinking. Beyond this point, news coverage has warned about the poor engineering of the levees. Not only are the levees causing the city to sink, but they are not strong enough to protect the city in the case of a storm. So far news coverage has warned us that New Orleans is sinking because of disappearing wetlands and the levees. From news coverage we have learned that without wetlands, there is no natural protection from storms and without an adequate levee system, there are no man-made protective measures to protect from storms either. Since there is no protection, how will the people of New Orleans evacuate in the case of a storm?...
Evacuation routes! News coverage, however, warns that the city does not have an adequate evacuation plan. Will the government step in to help?
No! The first quote reveals that in the case of a storm, residents will be on their own without the help of relief agencies like the Red Cross. Second quote- Louisiana’s politicians, environmentalists, and business leaders have been pushing or a $14 billion coastal restoration project to try and restore the wetlands. Third quote- Dr. Suhayda, director of the Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute at Louisiana State University, promised to build a new protective measure that would seal off the center of New Orleans from flooding. This protected area would be used as a refuge for people evacuating their homes in other parts of the city. The third quote uses the would “skeptics”, acknowledging that some people do not take the threat of a storm seriously. Has the media done enough to educate the skeptics on the real dangers?
Yes! News stories have quoted experts in the field to validate their coverage. These quotes reflect the news articles emphasis on the impending catastrophic storm that the city will inevitably face. This storm, as we all know now, was Katrina. News coverage has continually tried to awaken citizens to the fact that New Orleans is highly vulnerable to a strong storm…
However, despite the constant news coverage, citizens are unwilling to realize these facts and instead believe that New Orleans is lucky. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Katrina, their luck ran out.
While the exact date of the storm was unpredictable, experts knew it would one day come. Newspapers for decades have been giving us warnings about the precarious traits unique to New Orleans. In total, news coverage before Katrina warns us that… New Orleans is sinking because of its receding wetlands and poorly designed levees. Neither the natural wetlands nor man-made levees can protect the city from a storm. In the case of a storm, citizens cannot leave because there is no adequate evacuation route. The government refuses to provide sufficient money to fund such evacuation route or initiate projects to protect New Orleans such as restoring wetlands or building structural fortifications. News stories quote experts and scientists as to dispel beliefs that these dangers are made-up but citizens of New Orleans think that their luck will save them. We know now that Katrina’s destructive outcome was predictable and news coverage had, in fact, been predicting it for years!
Found that cultural frames were not as prevalent nor victimization . By focusing on the contextual elements, the media were able to provide Americans with necessary, but difficult to access information regarding officials activities and city protection elements. race was rarely central to stories coded from the given time of the sample. When Cultural frames did appear, they were mostly regarding the loss and restoration of New Orleans rich culture
Provided all the essential facts a New Orleans resident (evacuated or not) would wanted to have been informed of such as facts, figures, damages, status of storm, Lt. Gen. Honore who oversees the military operation, one of his aides who has a group of people who have been monitoring the forum continually and taking notes and sending out rescue missions based on that information. http://www.nola.com/hurricane/katrina/pdf.ssf?/hurricane/katrina/content/pdf_200509.ssf
For 36 hours LSU enabled WWL to stay on the air to assist people Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), the station set up a temporary facility at the LPB studios in Baton Rouge. Hear the mayor’s anger, desperation, need for services, and president’s lack of reaction
NYT: Focus on individual people and their feelings, yet includes warning of danger but does not follow up with anything in the article Only focusing on immediate consequences of rainfall, not preparing people for what is to come Comparing storm to previous Florida storms, belittling the damage Only one mention of the danger of the next few days, but no elaboration on the subject After time passes, NYT significantly improves their reporting skills by providing continuous coverage with pictures and maps of flooded areas
Bullet regarding specificity: looking at New Orleans as a whole rather than reporting on which areas were hit hardest
Trys to play on viewers emotions with victimization stories but fails at telling them the impact the storm has on the city itself People need to know how their government is reacting to the situation, not able to through this report
First bullet: Shows necessity of information and importance to the viewers Fourth bullet: rather than just listening to people in a news room, live footage helps relay reality of the situation Fifth bullet: important to know what the government is doing in response to the disaster
Third bullet: giving up to the minute information to viewers
CBS, NBC<, ABC - reviewed coverage – heavy on images of people being carried out of Convention Center and being rescued; people stuck on highway heavy imagery, lots of emphasis on the human devastation Problem of collecting dead bodies NBC – images and issue of poverty and race, personal human feature stories – lots of children; gasoline –gas stations that ran out of gas and people left stranded FOX – state of emergency – slow response; support places to donate blood, people opening up homes, etc. CNN – really good job, covered it all
10/01/2005 Hurricane Katrina / New Orleans / Music Evening News NBC 05:56:10 pm 02:30 587 10/01/2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita / Recovery / New Orleans Evening News FOX 06:07:10 pm 02:50 588 10/01/2005 Hurricane Katrina / The Aftermath / New Orleans Evening News CNN 09:07:40 pm 02:30 589 10/02/2005 Hurricane Katrina / New Orleans / Housing Evening News ABC 00:03:30 am 02:40 590 10/02/2005 Hurricane Katrina / New Orleans / The Return Evening News CBS 05:04:10 pm 02:40 591 10/02/2005 Hurricane Katrina, Rita / Building Costs Evening News CBS 05:06:50 pm 02:00 592 10/02/2005 Hurricane Katrina / Evacuees / &quot;Katrina&quot; Evening News CBS 05:26:00 pm 02:10 593 10/02/2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita / Recovery Evening News FOX 06:06:10 pm 03:20 594 10/02/2005 Hurricane Katrina / The Aftermath / New Orleans Evening News CNN 09:19:20 pm 01:00
“The main problem with southern Louisiana is that it is dangerously low, and getting lower. The levees that imprisoned the Mississippi River into its shipping channel and helped make New Orleans one of the world's busiest ports have also prevented the muddy river from spreading sediment around its delta.”
Washington Post- September 14, 2004
“New Orleans, like the rest of the Louisiana coast, is sinking. On average, New Orleans is six feet below sea level. What has protected New Orleans from hurricane destruction in the past has been the wetland grasses.”
Flood plains serve a crucial purpose, and when a river as prodigious as the Mississippi is denied a place to send its excesses, the land itself, and the people who depend on it, suffer in the long run.
New York Times- May 4, 2001
Hurricanes don't destroy much property or kill many people because of the winds. . . . The way hurricanes kill people and destroy property is the surge tide blown on shore by the hurricane. In the past, the endless, vast sheets of marsh grass have absorbed the energy and dispersed the water of hurricane surge tides. Now you have less than half of the march buffer you had between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico that you had 30 or 40 years ago.
“Now engineers say [the levees] are not enough to protect New Orleans, much of it below sea level, from a devastating flood that could threaten it if a storm surge from a powerful hurricane out of the Gulf of Mexico propelled a wall of water into the lake and the city.”
“This port city's levees are designed to withstand only a Category 3 storm, and officials begged residents to evacuate the area”
‘Richard Pasch, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Florida, said: "It's a major evacuation problem. Most of the city lies at sea level or below, surrounded by water and protected by a levee system that would be topped by a storm surge pushed by a strong hurricane blowing in from the southeast toward the northwest.”’
“There are relatively few practical escape routes for the metropolitan-area population of 1.4 million, and even those would likely be flooded by the rain that usually precedes a hurricane.”
“ New Orleans is the only city in which the relief agency refuses to set up emergency storm shelters, to ensure the safety of its own staff.”
“ The Bush administration forced the state to scale down its request to $1.2 billion last year, and a Senate committee authorized $375 million.”
Washington Post- September 14, 2002
“ But obtaining the money on the scale needed is far tougher than devising plans, especially if some skeptics dismiss the worst-case predictions as scare tactics to help finance university research or for further environmental intrusions on the coast”
"We're running out of tomorrows," Davis said. "God willing, if there's still a southern Louisiana next week, I'm not talking about the politics of the possible anymore. It's now a question of which side are you on: Do you support the obliteration of a region, or do you want to try to save it?” Mark Davis, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Washington Post- September 14, 2002
“ Meteorologists say that New Orleans is perhaps the most vulnerable city in the nation when it comes to hurricanes.”
New York times- May 13, 1995
“ Experts like van Heerden consider New Orleans a catastrophe waiting to happen. A combination of human and natural factors make the location uniquely vulnerable to devastation from a tropical storm”
Professor Koenig said that many people here shrug off hurricanes because of the city's "Mediterranean, Latin, Catholic tradition.” “The Protestant tradition is, you're supposed to do something about your fate," he said. "Here, we gamble.”
New York Times- May 13, 1995
Many residents give little thought to such matters, counting on the knowledge that New Orleans has escaped hurricane disaster in the past.
Provided national audience with “breaking information”
Held other media organizations accountable for misreporting on issues I.e. rape in Superdome
“ covered nooks and crannies of New Orleans that an Associated Press or major network person would NEVER have known or gotten right”
Clarified that New Orleans had not “dodged a bullet” and city in despair
Help guided rescuers and save lives while providing in depth news to evacuees
"I listed a friend's mother, who needed rescuing, on the site and between me and the numerous caring people who responded -- she and her daughter where picked up by the National Guard. Bless everyone that had a hand in keeping that site up and running! ”