Monday, September 05, 2005


We have been living with Katrina for over a week now. I have never seen anything like it.

The coverage has been great and awful, both on a local level and what we've seen from national newspapers, the "mainstream" media and on line.

Some observations:

Here in Portland, it was a hard story to cover because it was so far away and it came near the end of August and early September, when newsrooms start to empty for the last shot at a summer vacation. The O had a crew on the ground in Houston for a football game but seemed to not communicate well because it took a day for them to start writing about the mass exodus. They had lots of reporters to tell that story but the priority for the crew was the game.

Local TV has started to send crews or rely on national and regional feeds to "localize" the story, but we never faced a national disaster where we couldn't just plug into a power pole or spend the night in a local motel. That changed the rules. Like September 11th, our local stations were irrellevant. The stories and the images from the networks, national and cable, were so compelling that anytime we tried to interject it seemed pointless and almost disrespectful. It wasn't our story.

The NO Times-Picayune showed how a newspaper with no street or home delivery options continued to bravely tell a story in its own backyard. If that's not worth a Pulitzer, I don't know what is. When we get some space there will be a lot written about the worth of the printed page, and the future of on-line organized journalism.

I agree with an old friend who said that watching the story on TV, before during and after, was like watching storm coverage here - lots of obvious observations about what was in front of you, but very little depth or perspective. I think most of the reporters on screen had great experience talking about weather - they probably all had their storm coverage stripes - but knew very little about the region, its residents, or how to talk about a disaster in real terms. They should have just shut up and let their pictures do the work.

We also learned that we still don't know how to talk about race and income. The tiff about the photo and looting and borrowing showed that. We should have a national conversation about that.

And it's likely that Katrina will overshadow Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica and all the government scandals of our age. There's something bigger out there about how the storm did the damage it did, how we'll rebuild a great city, how the government responded (or didn't), and what the role of the President is in a situation like this.

I don't remember the name of any of the hurricanes that blew through the past in the recent past. I will never forget Katrina.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Monday, September 05, 2005 1:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regarding "how we'll rebuild a great city"... read yesterday's commentary in the O for why we shouldn't and probably won't return New Orleans to its former glory.(specifically look at "Hubris, nature and a city in ruins" as well as "Do we need New Orleans?") Many, many residents are gone for good (and I don't mean the ones who perished, God rest their souls.) Please don't spend billions of dollars in tax money to defy mother nature and rebuild a city in a bowl of quicksand.

Monday, September 05, 2005 9:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't remember the name of any of the hurricanes that blew through the past in the recent past. I will never forget Katrina."

Ummm...ok Andrew, Dennis, Ivan...
Your comment shows your true journalism colors. Live in the now and forget anything you did in the past.

But way to go on starting up this website and using it to show your dramatic ignorance.

Monday, September 05, 2005 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just returned to Portland following a week in British Columbia. Almost immediately, the Canadian and British press addressed the role of race and poverty in the pre-Katrina evacuation and the post-Katrina recovery and relief efforts. As early as Monday, I recall a Canadain Broadcast Reporter calling racism the "dark underbelly of American society". From what I could tell, the US mainstream media didn't begin to discuss race until late Thursday.

Monday, September 05, 2005 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Eastwood said...

This story hasn't been a local one for us, but that's about to change. Drop by Washington HS and you'll see what I mean.

For as badly as Bush's so-called "Homeland Security" and "Emergency Management" teams bungled the storm, one wonders if Portland is any better prepared for the comparatively tiny numbers of people who will be sheltered in the middle of our city. Will we still feel like singing "We Are The World" when our town is dealing with the hard realities of an instant refugee camp at Southeast 12th and Stark?

Monday, September 05, 2005 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't remember the name of any of the hurricanes that blew through the past in the recent past. I will never forget Katrina."

Maybe you don't remember them because you watched TV coverage. How the hell Can you not remember Andrew?

"The O had a crew on the ground in Houston for a football game."

Yeah, so. What is it that you expect from a couple of sports reporters? The Times-Picayune also is a Newhouse paper and is doing a stellar job of coverage. Do the Seattle papers have a crew of reporters in NO? Maybe they do, but I bet they don't.

Monday, September 05, 2005 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Sadie Bex said...

Please don't spend billions of dollars in tax money to defy mother nature and rebuild a city in a bowl of quicksand.

Yes, but -- a lot of the city ISN'T underwater, and many other neighborhoods only had a few feet's worth of flooding. Thousands upon thousands of houses and businesses -- some historical, some not -- are perfectly structurally okay. The Marigny, the Garden District, Uptown, the French Quarter, Algiers, etc., are basically alright. Anyone who says "Abandon the whole city" doesn't know it -- or has been swayed by countless views of the neighborhoods that ARE underwater, which is understandable.

Should the severely flooded neighborhoods be rebuilt, after the city is drained and most of those totally flooded houses have to be torn down? Probably not in those locations -- make them into memorial parks for the people who died there. But a big chunk of the city can be brought back without massive re-engineering, and it should be. The city's residents need it, as does the country.

Monday, September 05, 2005 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to eastwood:
your ignorance of the significance of New Orleans is as broad as your heart is cold.

Monday, September 05, 2005 5:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Eastwood said...

My heart is fine, and I didn't address the significance of New Orleans. My point is a pragmatic one regarding of Portland's readiness to accomodate the planned evacuees. I hope everyone welcomes them, but how solid is your faith in the ability of the school district, the police bureau, and the human services infrastructure to quickly meet the needs of our guests?

Maybe they can. I hope so. But don't call me cold-hearted for wondering.

Monday, September 05, 2005 9:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ultimately, it's not up to the school district, the police or the human services infrastructure to make it work. It's up to the citizens of the city, county and state. They can do it by volunteering lots of time and money individually or by taxing themselves so the local agencies can take care of the new arrivals. If they don't do either, Eastwood, then yes, you'll get the chaos you're "wondering" about. but really, you won't be able to blame the agencies, because Oregon (and its 46th in the nation tax rate) doesn't take care very good care of people here by design. Of course the country as a whole doesn't, compared to the rest of the developed world, something you never hear about in the American media, by the way.

Monday, September 05, 2005 11:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I'm a pass-holding bus rider, so since TriMet will be providing free bus passes to them I will probably have more chances to meet them than most.
I will definitely do what human beings could and should do in this situation - welcome them with open arms. I realize that they have probably lost everything, and now add to the fact they are going to be thousands of miles away from their original homes will probably just add to the discomfort.
I've met people here on their travels that say Portland the friendliest place they've ever been. Let's all work hard to make sure we can keep up that reputation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'S funny, speaking as 'America' I don't feel hate for the ethnic colors of New Orleans or the forlorn testament to rebuild. But I feel like I'm being told to. Hey, Big Easy peeps, we haven't gone away. There's a media wedge being pounded in between us.

Refer here: September 5, 2005 -- Our corporate news media is totally controlled by the Bush administration with an information embargo now in force from the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. The cable news channels are now praising the White House's response.

(Scrolling down:) September 4, 2005 -- Reports continue that communications in and around New Orleans are being purposely jammed (and severed) by the US government (see Sep. 2 article below). The jamming is having an adverse impact on emergency, disaster recovery, and news media communications. The jamming is even affecting police radio frequencies in Jefferson Parish, according to an Australian news report. The President of Jefferson Parish Aaron Broussard told Meet the Press today that FEMA cut his parish's emergency communications lines and ...

(Further:)Jamming radio and other communications such as television signals is part of a Pentagon tactic called "information blockade" or "technology blockade." The tactic is one of a number of such operations that are part of the doctrine of "information warfare" and is ...

When we report it we get this.

We're trying to get coverage. "The web is our only way to get the news out to the rest of the world."-WM

Non-commercial webcams and ham radio operators help most. K7AAY Says: (Sept/02/10:05 AM) The Interdictor is a data center guy, blogging, with webcams, from, an ISP in a Central Business District highrise in New Orleans. Guess who I'm picking as my next web host, for this trial by fire shows they will be up and on line with my trivial babble until the Last Trump.

- The Interdictor - If there was a Pulitzer for blogging (present company excepted, of course), he'd be my recommendation for this year's ballot (last year being A View From A Broad, a female milblogger who just re-upped. And, yes, as S.M. Sterling would say, I am distressingly liberal.)

This Wiki also gives you some idea about what's going on. There are other good Wikis, too; gotta get back to the phone bank.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 1:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got one.

Greg Mitchell ( is editor of E&P.

'My Pet Goat' -- The Sequel
This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit. While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall failure of leadership in this weeks hurricane's disaster, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty.
. . . This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press should call it by its proper name.

That would be "manslaughter". At least. At some point it goes beyond a case of a keystone kops president flub-a-dub. Theres too much. Behind it has to be a backstory scripted to act like a clown fjor somebody's plans and a motivating purpose.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 1:51:00 AM  
Anonymous RAH said...

"I don't remember the name of any of the hurricanes that blew through the past in the recent past. I will never forget Katrina."

If you lived down there, you'd remember all sorts of names... Andrew, Allison, Betsy, Camille, Hugo, Opal... the list goes on. Anyhow, even if you hadn't lived down there, I still can't believe you don't remember any of those (especially Hugo and Andrew).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what will happen to "Katrina" as a choice for newborns? Most likely, the name will drop off the radar for at least a generation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger PDXMediaWatcher said...

My point was that this will overshadow any memory of the others, but obviously I got scorched for that. Of course I remember all others.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 3:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been said- but it bears repeating. If you cannot understand why New Orleans should NOT be bulldozed- then you have not picked up a history book recently. Without a doubt, it one of the top three cities of historical significance in this country. The French Quarter alone is a National Park. Being built on a swamp below sea level is not cause enough to wipe out hundreds of years of history. Omaha, perhaps. New Orleans- never. Ignorant to suggest it should be leveled.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 3:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Joe Inkwell said...

I remember back in 1976 (a hundred years ago) when there was a long drought and it didn't rain from about October through March.

Some people back then claimed the government was testing top-secret CIA technology to control the weather and would soon be deciding (for political reasons, of course) which areas of the country would get rain and which would be left to wither.

Such folks were rightly dismissed then as paranoid cranks and crackpots.

Reading some of these posts, it is apparent that some things never change. They just show up online now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 6:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . .it one of the top three cities of historical significance in this country."

Uh, how about New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago, even Charleston and St. Augustine. New Orleans may make it into the top ten, just maybe. The top three, hardly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 6:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top 3 cities of historical significance: New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco.
Next 3: Philly, St. Louis, Santa Fe
Final 4: San Antonio, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, NYC
Honorable mention: Astoria, Ft. Vancouver

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 7:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly you have not picked up a history book since the sixth grade. Does the Louisiana Purchase mean anything to you? And why was it such a historic deal to the country? Anyone? Washington? Are you kidding? New Orleans was up and running, providing a much needed water way for the Mississippi long before DC was ever even thought of. Andrew Jackson anyone? Napoleon ring a bell? Chicago wasnt of any significance until the late 19th century and the influx of immigrants. Railroad built Chicago. New Orleans- far richer and deep in our nations history. How sad you arent aware of this.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont forget jazz. But that probably doesnt matter to you since it is just an art form.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is rich. People spewing venom over which cities have greater historical significance. What's next?

Commenter 1: "I love Pepsi."

Commenter 2: "That just proves you're moron. Coke is infinitely better and everyone knows it."

Commenter 3: "You're both ignorant creeps and I wouldn't be surprised if you molested your siblings. Besides Diet Coke is better than both of them."

Commenter 4: "Coke vs. Pepsi. What a joke. You've all been taken in by neo-capitalist dogma propagated by corporate criminals who are denuding the rainforests even as their filth-infested products are made by 8-year-old Indonesian girls making 2 cents a year and chained to their work stations. Meanwhile, Bush and his cronies sit in plush offices sipping champagne and eating caviar as they count their blood money."

Everybody loves to hate. Don't they?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenter 5: RC Cola.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 4:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL at last two anonymouses!
Something needs to be done NOW, before this site is officially named "PDXRadio #2."

Thursday, September 08, 2005 2:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

W just BAGGED "Brownie" for jacking off horses instead of saving people's asses.

W'S Medal Of Freedom award ceremony for his beloved "Brownie" is tomorrow morning, Saturday, 5:30am, in Jenna's bedroom so no one from media can see it.

Friday, September 09, 2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, OPB Radio is the best source of katrina news going. Good reason why the station is #1 on radio in the Portland market.

Thursday, September 15, 2005 10:09:00 PM  
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