The MSM and Katrina  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   December/January 2006

The MSM and Katrina   


I really appreciated reading the stories on the mainstream media in the October/November issue ("Essential Again" and "Apocalypse in New Orleans"). If there is an opportunity for a follow-up article, I would like to see one about United Radio of New Orleans. Here in North Dakota, I've been listening to WWL via the Web and I'm fascinated by the whole concept. To have two big radio groups Entercom and Clear Channel cooperate this way belies (to an extent) the "profits only" picture that has emerged from radio consolidation.

One other point: Reading "Apocalypse in New Orleans" about the Times-Picayune reminded me of the struggles the staff of the Grand Forks Herald had in the 1997 Red River flood. It's amazing how those two papers published in the midst of chaos.

Thanks again. Articles like these reinforce my love of my job in the MSM.

Dave Thompson
News director
North Dakota Public Radio
Bismarck, North Dakota

What a wonderful piece of patting one's self on the back. Rem Rieder's "Playing Big" (Full Court Press, October/ November) outlines the wonderful performance of American journalism rising to the story while making claims it had failed in the WMD story.

The facts are coming out now. American journalists got so much wrong that they should have gotten right. In an effort to find fault with George Bush, they repeated unsubstantiated claims of widespread raping and pillaging. Ten thousand dead, and it was George Bush's fault.

While I won't exonerate the administration for errors it may have made, it is obvious that local and state officials have a great deal of responsibility for what occurred. Certainly, journalists were eager to hold officials accountable. But what officials? The blame-Bush crowd was out in force. With little to go on and little interest in truth, they went after Bush hammer and tong. The mayor of New Orleans and the governor were nearly universally not criticized at all.

As for the snide comment: "rosy, what-me-worry pronouncements of the war's architects," one can see what the press sees as its role in Iraq. They have no long view, and only consider the day to day, let's see if we can find a fault. Ignore progress and any triumphs. It is no wonder that the press was universally surprised at the turnout in the Iraqi elections.

H. Michael Sarkisian
Sacramento, California

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