KATRINA AND THE MEDIA….The BBC’s Matt Wells writes that Hurricane Katrina may have saved the U.S. media:
Amidst the horror, American broadcast journalism just might have grown its spine back, thanks to Katrina.
….The most spectacular example came last Friday night on Fox News….with the sick and the dying forced to sit in their own excrement behind him in New Orleans, its early-evening anchor Shepard Smith declared civil war against the studio-driven notion that the biggest problem was still stopping the looters.
On other networks like NBC, CNN and ABC it was the authority figures, who are so used to an easy ride at press conferences, that felt the full force of reporters finally determined to ditch the deference.
As the heads of the Homeland Security department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) appeared for network interviews, their defensive remarks about where aid was arriving to, and when, were exposed immediately as either downright lies or breath-taking ignorance.
Wells seems to think Katrina might be the final straw that finally wakes up the media for good. I’m not so sure, myself: once the images fade, memories may prove to be as short as ever. But I hope he’s right.