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Journalism in times of crisis: Hurricane Katrina


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Journalism in times of crisis: Hurricane Katrina

  1. 1. Journalism in times of Crisis: Hurricane Katrina Hsin-Hsin Lee Meg Peterson Arianna Grand Tom Burson David Bos
  2. 2. What is Ineffective Reporting? <ul><li>Not painting the full picture </li></ul><ul><li>Sensationalization </li></ul><ul><li>Balance </li></ul><ul><li>Excessive speculation </li></ul><ul><li>Letting emotions shape coverage </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Effective Reporting? <ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who, what, when, where, why </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goes beyond facts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Background information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objective voice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoiding emotional coloring of report </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Authority (speculation vs. facts) </li></ul><ul><li>What to do next </li></ul>
  4. 4. What should have been mentioned in the news prior to Hurricane Katrina? <ul><li>Hurricane Betsy (1965) </li></ul><ul><li>Hurricane Ivan (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Condition of the levees in New Orleans </li></ul><ul><li>2005 Hurricane forecast </li></ul>
  5. 5. Discussion of the levees in New Orleans <ul><li>September 28, 1998 “City hopes levees can withstand battering” by Mark Truby, USA Today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Background information about the construction of the levees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Description of the situation of New Orleans being located below sea level and the potential consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion of the causalities of Hurricane Betsy and the hurricane protection system that Congress put in place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ the world’s most elaborate flood protection system”, according to Jim Addison, the chief of public affairs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. What was discussed in the news in August 2005? <ul><li>Discussion of the upcoming hurricane season </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ This hurricane season has already been a doozy. It’s brought five tropical storms and two hurricanes, setting the record for the number of named storms so early in the season.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“… forecasters say they’re looking for 18 to 21 named storms…anyone who hasn’t gotten serious about storm preparation out to do so now” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“… one thing forecasters don’t predict is where storms will hit.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Brace yourselves”, Times Picayune, Wednesday August 3, 2005 </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Hurricane forecast for August 2005 <ul><li>Gerry Bell, a lead meteorologist on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicted “seven to nine more hurricanes, including five hurricanes Category 3 or stronger” </li></ul><ul><li>Ivor van Heerdan said that the new estimate for the number of hurricanes “place more pressure on the center to provide local, state, and federal emergency officials with hurricane storm surge predictions quickly.” </li></ul><ul><li>– The Times Picayune “Earlier storm forecast blow away – As many as nine more hurricanes are expected” by Mark Schleifstein, August 3, 2005 </li></ul>Hurricane forecast for August 2005
  8. 8. Hurricane preparedness <ul><li>Jefferson Parish, the Emergency Management Director, used the announcement of the increased number of hurricanes forecasted “as a tool in an intensified education program aimed at explaining the need to evacuate and the need to make an advance plan for that evacuation.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ There’s a real need to get the public to understand that if we have two hurricanes just a week apart…people could be forced to evacuate the area and stay away for more than a week,” warned Ivor van Heerdan </li></ul>Hurricane preparedness
  9. 9. Hurricane Warnings <ul><li>After Hurricane Ivan (2004), an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer warned that a “direct hit by a very powerful hurricane could swamp its levees and leave as much as 20 feet of chemical-laden, snake-infested water trapped in the man-made bowl.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The worst scenario would be a big hurricane arriving from the east, pushing a wall of water from the gulf into Lake Pontchartrain, then over the levees into the cities.” </li></ul>Hurricane Warnings
  10. 10. Ineffective Reporting between August 25 and September 4, 2005
  11. 11. <ul><li>Hurricane Katrina was covered as a “carnival” for students at the University of Miami with no significant impact beyond inconvenient electric outages </li></ul><ul><li>There was no mentioning of the fact that Hurricane Katrina has become a Category 4 at 12AM and is a current Category 5 going straight toward New Orleans—a bowl shaped city </li></ul>August 28, 2005 7:00AM Hurricane Katrina became Category 5 10:00 Mandatory evacuation 12:00PM Superdome, the “refuge of last resort,” houses 20,000 people
  12. 13. <ul><li>The report failed in remaining an objective voice </li></ul><ul><li>It criticized people for taking advantage of the situation, but did not speak of the lack of resources and delay in aid within the area </li></ul><ul><li>All questions were attempting to negatively frame the federal government </li></ul>
  13. 14. Effective Reporting between August 25 and September 4, 2005
  14. 15. New York Times August 29 <ul><li>“ Hurricane Katrina could bring 15 inches of rain and a storm surge of 20 feet or higher that would ‘most likely topple’ the network of levees and canals that normally protect the bowl-shaped city from flooding.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ President Bush declared a state of emergency for the Gulf Coast, a move that cleared the way for immediate federal aid. Mr. Bush also urged people in the storm's potential path to head for safer ground.” </li></ul><ul><li> ” A spokeswoman said FEMA had mobilized several hundred specialists, including about 20 medical teams and a smaller number of urban search and rescue teams. ” </li></ul>
  15. 16. New Orleans Times-Picayune August 30 th , 2005 <ul><li>The Overview: “Look, look man: It’s gone.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The powerful storm surge pushed huge waves ahead of the hurricane…the flooding was extensive.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ People who attempt to return to the city will be stopped.” </li></ul>
  16. 17. NBC Nightly News August 31 st , 2005 <ul><li>“ The mayor here gave voice to what many had feared today that thousands may be dead in these floodwaters, and tonight officials at all levels of government are mobilizing to evacuate all 100,000 people still here.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Think of the hospitals here in New Orleans…they are in perilous conditions, running on generator power, no running water, no supplies.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Tonight the navy is sending four ships loaded with food, water, soap and medicine…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ And we'll repeat this: For more on how you can help, you can logon to our Web site. That's” </li></ul>
  17. 18. Ineffective Reporting After Hurricane Katrina
  18. 20. September 5, 2005 September 5, 2010: NBC News with Brian Williams <ul><li>“ Prediction could not be more grim” </li></ul><ul><li>10,000 people may be dead </li></ul><ul><li>Standing waist deep in water for dramatic effect </li></ul><ul><li>Continued, somewhat excessive focus on destruction, chaos, individual tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>Limited camera time given to officials </li></ul>
  19. 21. September 5, 2005 October 12, 2005: NBC News with Brian Williams and CNN <ul><li>Continued focus on narrow, easy to tell stories </li></ul><ul><li>Individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Coming into destroyed homes for the first time </li></ul><ul><li>Stock images / video of chaos </li></ul><ul><li>What about places other than New Orleans </li></ul>
  20. 22. September 5, 2005 November, 2005: NBC / CNN Coverage <ul><li>Problems continue for some, not for everyone </li></ul><ul><li>Issues with traffic, garbage delivery </li></ul><ul><li>Continued, stories of people returning to homes </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of officials and information about what is being done </li></ul>
  21. 23. Effective Reporting After Hurricane Katrina
  22. 24. <ul><li>NPR September 7, 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>What worked and what didn’t in planning and response to Katrina: Q&A with the experts with interactive format allowing callers to contribute </li></ul><ul><li>When to issue advisories in this case and in the future </li></ul><ul><li>Companies and individuals that sent aid </li></ul><ul><li>How to prepare for natural disasters </li></ul><ul><li>FEMA and its place in the Dept of Homeland Security </li></ul><ul><li>Successes and failures of evacuations </li></ul><ul><li>Role of law enforcement in times of crisis </li></ul>
  23. 25. Effective: Post-Katrina <ul><li>Guests: </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Pasch , hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Willis Carter , director of communications for the Shreveport, La., fire department </li></ul><ul><li>Dave Liebersbach , director of Alaska's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management </li></ul><ul><li>Mark Schliefstein , reporter with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, now evacuated to Baton Rouge </li></ul><ul><li>Michael Guerin , former deputy director of emergency services for the state of California; former law enforcement mutual aid coordinator for the state of California </li></ul><ul><li>Scott Gold , Houston bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times </li></ul><ul><li> (:55) </li></ul>
  24. 26. Effective: Post-Katrina <ul><li>How do people feel a year after Katrina? </li></ul><ul><li>The Washington Post: August 21, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Nearly one year after Hurricane Katrina punched into the Gulf Coast, much damage remains, both in the shattered homes that litter parts of New Orleans and in the battered reputation of government institutions, a new survey shows.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Only half agreed that the federal government had &quot;learned a lesson from Hurricane Katrina” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Although President Bush pledged on Sept. 15 in a nationally televised address from Jackson Square to rebuild New Orleans, 70 percent of those surveyed said most individuals still have not gotten the help they need with housing, health care and restoring their lives.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Eighty-four percent of black respondents said most people affected by Katrina had not gotten the help they need to move on with their lives, and 75 percent said the federal government had not done enough to help state and local officials.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thirty-one percent said failures in the response to the storm were mostly those of government agencies. But those queried also cited individual officials and leaders (21 percent of respondents) and residents who did not adequately prepare and leave in time (22 percent).” </li></ul>
  25. 27. Effective: Post-Katrina <ul><li>Dateline NBC: Katrina, Five Years Later </li></ul><ul><li>Chronicles coverage of the hurricane from Day 1 to Day 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Brian Williams shares his memories ( Introduction ) </li></ul><ul><li>General coverage of the storm as well as a series of personal stories from individuals and families affected by the tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>“ And now that it’s been five years, it’s worth taking a look at what’s changed and what hasn’t changed in New Orleans where the damage remains profound” ( 7:12 ) </li></ul><ul><li>New Orleans has not been completely forgotten by the media five years later and NBC had accurate and complete coverage of Katrina at the time and after </li></ul>