I linked to at least two stories out of New Orleans that now seem to have been exaggerated. One was the emotional Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s emotional story about a friend’s mother who died in a nursing home. MSNBC now reports that Broussard did not get the details and timing of this right and that the death was, tragically, among those that allegedly came when residents of a nursing home were not evacuated and the owners of that home have since been indicted. The other story was of the murder of at least one child in the Convention Center as reported in the Times-Picayune; David Carr in The Times said there is no verification of that story.
Carr also points out that such exaggerations often occur in such tragedies. He recounts hearing similarly amplified horrors after September 11th. In both cases, it is not as if there is the slightest reason to add to the horrifying truth.
So Yahoo hired Kevin Sites to report on war for them. On the one hand, sure, that’s cool: multimedia man hired by the thoroughly modern media company. But does anyone else think it’s strange to have a site and a reporter who covers just war? Yahoo emphasizes that this doesn’t mean they are “building any kind of news organization.” So that means, instead, that they’re just going for the bloody bits?
Glenn Reynolds has a good roundup of charities working in Katrina’s wake.
In response to a call from Hugh Hewitt, Truth Laid Bear put up a great resource to direct bloggers’ and blog readers’ charity here. This is aimed at a big push tomorrow. Keep an eye on those sites.
And also, here’s the Red Cross.
It’s an indelicate question but one that needs to be asked: Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Or how much of it should be?
At a press conference with the governor and legislators just now, vows were made: “We’re going to be reinventing New Orleans…. Can and will New Orleans be rebuilt? Absolutely!”
But… Having visited the city often in my last job, I was always struck by its poverty and its lack of a workable economy. Tourism is pretty much the only industry. The food is great. The attitude is fun. But big companies had left.
And… Does it make sense to rebuild homes and offices in a place that can be destroyed all too easily, putting thousands of lives at risk? Is that the right thing to do?
And… Is that the best use of our tax and insurance dollars? Everytime the Mississippi floods up river, there are those who say that we should stop paying to rebuild that which has been destroyed before. And, in fact, we have invested government money in moving people away from certain danger so we can stop paying to rebuild. It’s an investment in their safety.
I’m not suggesting that what’s left of New Orleans should be bulldozed and abandoned. But I will suggest that, indeed, the city may need to be reinvented. How?
Perhaps it should go with its strengths and be rebuilt as a tourist destination before all its restaurants have branches in Vegas. Perhaps it should be smaller and rather than investing in rebuilding, the money should in some cases be spent on relocation.
What should become of New Orleans?
My former colleagues at Nola.com and the Times-Picayune have evacuated the hurricane bunker in the newspaper’s building.
: So the TV reports were wrong twice: They said this was going to be catastrophic. Then they said it wasn’t. Now it is.
On WWL’s stream, they just had on scientists from LSU’s hurricane center showing computer models that demonstrate just how the water from a breached levee will take over the city.
They also quoted a tourist from Philadelphia who watched looting comparing New Orleans to Baghdad (which means it won’t be long before someone compares it to Saigon).
: LATER: I’m watching incredible live coverage right now of helicopter rescues inside New Orleans on the WDSU stream.
WWL is reporting martial law in Jefferson Parish; people will be allowed back into their homes only to get essentials in a week and then will not be allowed back in again for at least another week.
WDSU is reporting that the streets around the stadium are now flooded and without electricity or working plumbing inside, it is “fetid.” But the thousands there are not allowed to leave.
: LATER: Just saw Sen. Mary Landrieu after a ride over New Orleans begging people who’ve been evacuated to stay away as officials try to save those who are still there. She said those who are outside should “get on your knees” and thank God for being alive.
: Found this New Orleans blog sending updates while his laptop battery holds out [via Houston Chronicle tech blogger Eric Berger]:
Well. The looting is getting pretty bad here now. Almost all the grocery stores are being looted. Some kids across the street came up carring tons of stuff. I asked if they found a place open. SOrta…THey were just coming back from stealing cigarrettes and soda and beer from Roberts. GOod job scum-bags.
THey are now saying it will be about a month to two months before power is restored all over. I think I might need to leave town for a while. I’ll have to see.
Again, thanks for caring guys. It’s heart-warming. If I don’t find a way to recharge my laptop, there won’t be many updates coming. But I’m alive and in one piece. Everything else is gravy, yes?
: LATER: Here’s the demonstration that LiveJournal is, indeed, a community where people know and care for each other: Look at the updates from and about friends in the hurricane.
We’re only beginning to hear the real stories of tragedy from the hurricane.
This morning on Good Morning America, a reporter stopped a man in the street just to ask how he was and she heard how his home split in half and he lost his wife when she told him to stop holding her so he could save their children and grandchildren. The reporter could not stop from crying. I don’t think anyone could.
And then a reporter — Robin; I lost her last name — went to her hometown, Gulfport, and the shock was clear. The anchor in New York asked whether he family was OK and she could not stop from crying. Who could? They were safe. She said that in other cases, she would have brought her cameas with her, but she did not; this was too private, too difficult.
Reporters are human, too.
Oh, to be Jon Stewart today. The moments of unselfconscioius self-parody on the news channels keep flying by faster than a garbage-can lid in a hurricane. Well, in fact, we’re getting live reports of just such lids flying by on FoxNews and on CNN, Anderson Cooper reports on a single barge in the Mississippi. They all can do little more than report on what they happen to see where they happen to be. On CNN this morning, they cut to a guy so he could use his little wind-meter (quite the gadget in this storm) and he couldn’t it working and then said things were actually pretty calm, as he demonstrated when his meter got up to only 4 mph. My favorite is that CNN has dubbed a satellite truck Hurricane One. I do hope they have more than one person in it, so we can get Team Coverage from Hurricane One.
: Please do add in the moments of news self-parody you see today in the comments.
: LATER: So much for Hurricane One.
Nola.com editor Jon Donley is blogging from inside New Orleans, in the Times-Picayune’s hurricane bunker:
OK, it’s official, Katrina is beginning to knock on our door. We’ve already been without main power for about two hours . . . no air conditioning (not to harp on that) . . . flashlights to get around the building. Thankfully, no televisions turned to helmet-haired weathercreatures yapping away about worst-case scenarios. Times-Picayune staffers huddled around a radio, or gathered at the second-floor landing, where there’s a view of the newspaper’s front drive circle.
The scene out the windows is frightening, and it’s just beginning. Gusts slamming the big windows, and people reflexively ducking, knowing they’ve got to break. Trees whipping as if they’re about to be uprooted.
: Terry Teachout is keeping a good directory of hurricane blogging.
: Kaye Trammel is blogging via Blackberry from LSU. Ernie the Attorney couldn’t get out of Dodge. [via Winer]
: UPDATE: My friend Jon Donley got a good picture of the damage to the Superdome.
: NowPublic just put up a board for people to connect with those who are missing — or at least hard to reach — in the storm.
: MSNBC obviously couldn’t get to the satellite feed from its New Orleans affiliate, so it put the station’s web feed on the air.
I watched WDSU, New Orleans’ station, over its stream. The station staff was evacuated, so they were broadcasting from a fellow Hearst station and they also put up streams from other local stations. The power of networking.
: AND FOR DESSERT: I have to say, in spite of everything, the Times-Picayune had great red beans and rice.