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Jack Shafer of Slate and Ann Gerhart of the Washington Post are doing excellent work amid this chaos.

Katrina – Sunday/Monday Media Critique

I am starting to notice some patterns with the coverage.

Jack Shafer of Slate – with pieces like this  and this – is doing some of the best analysis pieces on how the media coverage is going.

Ann Gerhart of the Washington Post is doing some of the best human interest stories. on Thursday she wrote the one I blurbed about two men at a gas stop. Yesterday she had the most compelling story I read – after reading the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and our Hagerstown newspaper – that truly conveyed (as much as possible) how crazy this situation must be for the affected residents. But when I just checked it was not yet online.

Meanwhile, this piece by her tells you just how bad the situation was in the "organized" part of the disaster relief.

While I’m not crazy about the fingerpointing going on – the time just doesn’t seem right – this editorial is excellent and points to one of the problems overlooked by many: the number of residents without cars.

In yet another remind of how crazy the times are I’m actually in agreement with something blogger Michelle Malkin writes, “Fire the FEMA director”.

Jon Lebrowsky links to a BoingBoing report that the Army Times is now referring to Katrina victims as “insurgents”. Is anyone else as outraged about this term as I am?

A quote from Saturday’s edition of Slate describes the magnitude of the problem: “To put it all in perspective, the NYT points out that this appears to be the largest mass relocation of Americans since the Civil War.

All the papers mention Nagin’s impassioned interview with a local radio station before the National Guard arrived, where he criticized the federal government and yelled at officials to "get off your asses and do something" (the NYT posted the transcript and audio of the interview). Although none may have said it quite as emotionally, criticism of the administration’s response was widespread. The WP says that the hurricane, which "started out as a humanitarian crisis has rapidly spawned a political crisis for the president." Congressional hearings were scheduled to look into the failures of the relief efforts as criticism came from a wide variety of people ranging from former President Bill Clinton to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to name a few. The LAT points out some members of Congress have called for FEMA to be separated from the Department of Homeland Security. The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu called on Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to take over the emergency operations. The LAT fronts a story on how around the world, people seem to be as surprised as Americans that something of this nature could happen to the world’s superpower.

The WP illustrates at least part of the failure by going inside with a story on Washington-area groups who wanted to send people to help out with disaster relief but were hampered by communication problems. For example, a group of doctors from Prince William County who have experience dealing with violent crisis situations was ready to send a team on Wednesday but they couldn’t get an answer from either federal officials or the Red Cross.

As could be expected, the papers are full of tearjerker stories of misery, separation, and hopelessness. Something that is likely to become an issue in the next few days is that many babies were evacuated separate from their mothers, who now don’t know where their children can be found. The WP fronts a story that illustrates the desperation at the Superdome as evacuees lined up to leave and people collapsed around them from illness or dehydration.

Ed/Pub:LM

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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