Monday, September 5

[Newspapers don't stop reporting just 'cause it's the End Times]

So in all the stories and reports from Katrina, one story I have paid marginal attention to is that of the people working for the newspapers — the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the Sun Herald in Biloxi.

A lot of the staffers of the T-P evacuated with their families for a few days and are beginning to come back to work now that things are getting more settled. But a lot of them stayed through the whole thing, and sent out frantic reports as the water began to rise around their building, forcing them to flee the city toward higher ground and this makeshift newsroom at LSU in Baton Rouge:

(Photo hotlinked over at News Designer.)

They published blog-style on their site throughout the entire crisis, and then on the 3rd, I think, they put out their first print edition. Editor Jim Amos had this to say to CNN's Aaron Brown:

"Well, the fact that the paper's publishing I think is a testament to the hunger of its readers. And we experienced it firsthand when we distributed the first print product post-hurricane this morning to people in shelters. And as our circulation director said, they accepted it, they grabbed for it almost as if it were food."

The main designer talks about putting together a rag-tag team to get the pages out over at News Designer (some scrolling involved; sorry no permalink).

And over in Mississippi, Sun-Herald staffers put the finishing touches on the Monday edition Sunday evening, hoping to get out of there and get their families to a safe place before the storm. "A few Sun Herald staffers waited out the storm in the Sun Herald building on DeBuys Road in Gulfport," a Sun Herald editorial says. And even after the Mississippi coast was gutted, the Sun Herald kept publishing. In fact, they haven't missed a publication day in 121 years. That's amazing.

I keep trying to imagine the same sort of scenerio here in Memphis. Of course, here, it's an earthquake or a tornado we have to worry about. Possibly even a major Mississippi River flood, but we would have to have some major storms beforehand to cause deadly flooding. For some reason, I thought the New Madrid fault line ran right through Memphis, but Wikipedia says not. Looks like Dyersburg is right there in the red zone, though. And Memphis is still too close for comfort, in my petrified opinion.

If some major weather catastrophe happened, would I stick it out in the middle of the action and help get the paper out? It's easy to say, "Duh, of course," but it depends on the magnitude of the situation, I guess. It's exciting, no doubt, and I don't have kids to corral, but that doesn't mean I don't have other people (and pets!) to track down and help and protect. How much of a risk would I take on my own life to help get the news out? Would I want to live in a disaster area even while everyone with a clue fled the area to stake fragile claims in other communities that weren't dying? Do I have an obligation to the people to help them stay informed, or does my obligation to my own survival outweigh that?

It's an interesting and terrifying thought. (It seems like most thoughts to be had these days are simultaneously interesting and terrifying...)

It makes me proud of my fellow news junkies who stuck it out and have been keeping the rest of the nation informed in ways that will probably help change the face of newspaper reporting forever. Maybe they don't ride around on boats, plucking people from treetops, but I still think they're heroes.


Blogger Amanda said...

It's good to know that there are a few reporters out there that are concerned about reporting this thing appropriately. I have watched so much of this on television and I'm thinking most of the coverage is aired just so well groomed anchor people can show themselves in the "human light" and ware there company polos while handing a motherless child a MRE.

Bitter ... me? ... of course not.

Mon Sep 05, 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Just for the record, I meant wear ... not ware. I get carried away.

Wed Sep 07, 07:29:00 PM  

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