Monday, September 26, 2005

Did Sensational Media Cost More Lives Than Reported Mayhem?

In an ever increasing tendency to report first and check facts weeks later, the New Orleans Times-Picayune Breaking News Blog is refuting stories that horrified the world when journalists reported that hundreds of people were raped and murdered in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina. The final death toll at the Superdome: 6. That is s-i-x. Not six hundred, or sixty, but rather six. On top of that four died of natural causes, one of a drug overdose and one of a suicide. That brings the total number of murdered people to zero. That's not to say that there were no murders of those people stranded in New Orleans. Of the four (that's right, only four) deaths at the New Orleans Convention Center, only one is suspected to be a murder.

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:
APPARENTLY, THE PRESS'S PERFORMANCE DURING KATRINA wasn't any better than the governments involved. At least, this Times-Picayune report says that the reports of death and destruction were wildly exaggerated. This is significant, not least because false reports of mayhem may have slowed rescue efforts over concerns with security. In addition, portrayal of New Orleans as lawless and debauched is likely to feed reluctance to rebuild.

So let's recap here. Ten people died in the Superdome and Convention Center while waiting for rescue. My intent is not to minimize the human suffering of those people stranded in the city after Katrina. It is to point out just how wrong the "infallible" media was. Why would they believe that human beings would regress to this Lord of the Flies mentality immediately? Who really hates the poor? Is it the Bush Administration or is it the media who had no problem characterizing them in such a stereotypical light?

1 comment:

Mike said...

You had me beat to this one. I was thinking the same thing. But I'm sure that having 2 hurricanes back-to-back didn't help. They have to report the news, but they also try to make it "interesting".

Damn me for being lazy.