Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Open Letter to the News Media

Dear men and women of the national and Louisiana news media,
I love New Orleans--it is a beautiful and fun place that is rich in cultural heritage. As I watched the news of Gustav's anticipated arrival, I hoped and prayed that the city wouldn't get smacked and that the people would not be forgotten the way they had been during Katrina.

Having said that, New Orleans is not the only city or town in Louisiana. And, this time, it was not ground zero. Terrebonne, Lafourche, and many of the Southeast river parishes were slammed, but you wouldn't really know it by watching the broadcasts on CNN, TWC, and the local Louisiana networks. WHY is that?

In the future, please consider covering all of the towns in your viewing area. No matter how small and insignificant those towns may seem to you, they are filled with people whose lives are no less important than those of the residents of New Orleans. They have just as much culture, character, and zest for life as anyone else. And they all have families and friends who care about them, are concerned for their safety, and for the conditions of their homes.

Thank you,

Now that I'm done ranting, kudos to HTV in Houma for streaming their online updates. At least someone got some reliable info out there.

4 red beans:

Tobermory said...

No. Fucking. Shit.

I felt the same way during the coverage. Okay -- New Orleans is not getting hit so hard, but I can see on the radar, my friends' families might fare differently. But how can I know when the press doesn't care? Epic Fail.

Omar said...

Hey Gal,

I agree with you that in the process of missing the story, the national and some local Louisiana media left a lot of people desperate for news of home and family.

For several days, the friends I mentioned - who'd evacuated to Jackson, MS - only had a few sources for information from home. Once, they talked with Lafourche Parish law enforcement contacts, who shared the little bit they could. Also, as I could piece together updates, I called or texted information. Mostly, they waited for the national media to stumble over bits of useful information.

You're right about Channel 10 (www.htv10.tv); from the weekend on, they were a great source for updates, even while their signal was knocked out! The other key source for us was The Daily Comet/Houma Today newspaper sites (www.dailycomet.com), who were still reporting once things got scary. Also, the Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish government websites proved useful once the storm had passed. Finally, for a while, I listened to KLRZ (www.klrzfm.com), the "Ragin' Cajun", broadcasting from LaRose, but the little bit they offered repeated a lot, so I signed off.

And then there was Houma resident Gred Ledet (www.gregledet.net), host of the (I swear to God) "Hurricam", or as he termed it just after the eye passed by, "...3 drunk guys and a hurricane..." Funny, but not so helpful in refining the world's perception of Southern Louisiana culture.

Back to the media: I watched some national weather clown broadcasting from Houma on Monday, who'd been told by a woman "... we stayed because the kids asked us to..." In response he said something like "unbelievable...well, I guess we can't save them all..." Now, I agree that staying in Houma wasn't terribly bright, and that letting the kids call the shot is kind of reckless, but are you freakin' kidding me?... "Can't save them all?"

You're a weather man, dude, dolled up in an L.L. Bean mock flak jacket and a baseball cap. You're not a Coast Guard rescue diver or a Marine. I couldn't believe the arrogance and insensitivity of the man, who doubtless considers himself sophisticated and competent, and I hope he watches his piece and worries going forward that people now know what a dolt he really is.

Finally, I think blogs are a great idea. But in emergencies, it appears some people think there's a blog genie who answers very specific questions like, "I live at 123 Main Street. Can you tell me if my dog is ok?" Understanding this, I think that those who host or run blogs that might attract such inquiries should post fairly frequently or shut the blogs down. The alternative, I observed this week, is for people to use the blogs to share rumors and fearful suspicions, which doesn't help anyone.

Thanks for providing this forum, Gal. More food talk, soon.


PS How's your family?

Geggie said...

Oh, girl...we have to talk. So much good and so much that needs to be fixed.

And hello? Alexandria? Underwater. No electricity. And for those who are at home an have water...they're on a boil order as there's a breach of the sanitiation system. And in N.LA, it rains still.

How's the fam?

Gumbeaux Gal said...

Tobermory - Epic fail for sure. Thanks for the sentiment.

Omar - I hope that your friends got through it all okay. Hmm. Yours is not the first report I have heard of national weather men/women having yuks over the Gustav situation. And, yes, I totally watched gregledet.com until he lost power. I have mixed feelings about the blogs -- there were definitely many rumors out there this time and with Katrina. They can be helpful, though. A blog helped us find a missing relative during Katrina.

Geg - How are things with you right now? Are you still in Ruston?

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