June Cross There are folks in Long Island, out in Coney Island, who still don’t have power. In part, this is the Manhattan-centric nature of New York media. But also, Katrina devastated an entire city, and these outer areas in New York have historically been ignored. Likewise, Long Branch and areas of New Jersey. The media is capricious; the story moves slowly. Unless there is a paper of journos as impacted as those who worked at The Times-Picayune in NOLA after Katrina, who are dedicated to following the minute developments of the stories unfolding in tedious tandem, it is difficult to hold the public’s attention. If you have no Internet, it is extremely difficult to communicate with the outside world. But Occupy Sandy has been doing an amazing job. The Occupy Sandy [information and volunteer coordination] hub does a better job than MSM.
Richard Prince Journalists should live in different parts of the circulation area, not just in the usual places that attract people of the journalists’ social class.
June Cross This would be where citizen journalists could work with professional journalists.
David Beard It is incumbent on us to find ways that allow us to pursue hard news with characteristic vigor. Those ways could include special digital/print sections, linkage to events, or ngo partnerships to fund some science, conflict, investigative, arts reporting. In covering local news, we can be more creative in partnering with local bloggers, universities, and other media than we have been.
Jeff Yang I feel disgusted to even be saying this, but I think that the way that disasters are covered in the media—and ultimately, how they play out in larger society—often comes down to the colors of the corpses.
I personally heard uttered that Sandy was “white people’s Katrina,” which defined the context of both disasters: Sandy was discussed as an issue of decaying infrastructure and overwhelmed or underestimated civic planning. New York is a place where a lot of powerful white people live, and they were inconvenienced by Sandy. Their interests drove a disproportionate amount of the narrative.
Katrina [coverage], meanwhile, often seemed to focus on the victims as members of a savage underclass, speculating on the corruption or poor leadership of local black officials, the ignorance or willful resistance to authority of black residents, and false reports of violence. There was the infamous incident in which Caucasian flood victims were portrayed in one photo caption as “finding” supplies, while a black person was described in another as “looting” supplies.
As a consequence, I think there was broad overlooking of suffering during the early coverage of Sandy, as people debated solutions and causes—for example, the massive fires at Breezy Point weren’t covered for hours. Thorough discussion of the antecedents of Katrina, and efforts to prevent future catastrophes, had to wait on days/weeks of disaster/poverty porn.
The only solution to this kind of coverage bias is diversity in establishment media, combined with a very different approach to partnerships between such media and citizen journalists/bloggers. It strikes me that in times of crisis, the news establishment [will] end up serving as a curatorial and factchecking filter for crowdsourced reporting, with its own reporting coming after the fact—in the window usually reserved for “news analysis.”
Raju Narisetti The expectation that a New York Times or a Wall Street Journal or Washington Post can really be comprehensive—and, to borrow from the NYT, provide all the news that is fit to print—is a false expectation in 2013, given the state of our industry, the proliferation of content sources, the growing promiscuity of once-loyal readers. Especially when it comes to covering large-scale events such as Sandy. There is a disconnect between what we think big media should do and what it can. The good news is that platforms and services such as Twitter are bringing news serendipity, immediacy, and breadth back into our lives and as a result, even if former traditional sources don’t provide it, the scale of what we know is actually much better today than it was in the heydays of dominant media brands.