Fall 2007

Katrina's Aftermath: News With No End in Sight

It’s been two years since Hurricane Katrina’s destructive force riveted the eyes of the world on the suffering of those left in its wake. In that time, newspapers in New Orleans and Mississippi have made adjustments while national news organizations wrestle with finding fresh ways to engage distant audiences. In this collection, written by journalists who have spent significant time trying to tell this story, Nieman Reports explores particular demands and difficulties posed by coverage of an ongoing news event with no end in sight. – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Katrina's Aftermath: News With No End in Sight
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Keeping Katrina’s Aftermath Alive
‘Anyone who visits New Orleans knows the story is far from over.’
By John Burnett
The Long Road to a Wide Bend
The Times-Picayune’s ‘focus has gradually shifted away from how the city will be rebuilt to how it is — now, in the present tense.’
By Gordon Russell
A Tragedy Illuminates the Ethical Dimensions of Picture Taking (3 comments)
An Essay in Words and Photographs
By Ted Jackson
Journalism Driven By Passion
‘… we’re totally comfortable with the view that New Orleans should survive. As a newspaper, we’re clear on that position.’
By James O’Byrne, Mark Schleifstein & Susan Feeney
Observing Everything to Tell the Story of Change
‘I found the timeline of the city’s renaissance in mundane details and in revealing what daily rituals were still altered.’
By Rukmini Callimachi
Bypassing the Easy Stories in the Big Easy
An editor and author urges out-of-town journalists to park their preconceptions at the city’s edge and be prepared to do some digging to find the news.
By Jed Horne
Images Evoke Memories and Emotions (1 comment)
An Essay in Words and Photographs
By Alex Brandon
Personal Circumstances Intersect With Professional Obligations
‘We have become tougher, more aggressive, more skeptical reporters due, at least in part, to the fact that we have a rooting interest in the outcome.’
By John Pope
A Forceful Voice About a City’s Survival
With the ‘transformative power of anger, I was converted into a full-time columnist who took on the serious work of defending a city.’
By Jarvis DeBerry
Lessons in Rebuilding: A House and a Newspaper
After embracing ‘the value of persistent patience,’ an editor shares what he learned in the transformation of the newsroom and the place he calls home.
By David Meeks
Telling a Tough Story in Your Own Backyard
An Essay in Words and Photographs
By Bill Haber
Survival First, Then Needed Newsroom Adjustments
‘All of the silos were leveled, and the Sun Herald newsroom became a blended team with an intense Katrina focus.’
By Stan Tiner
The Changing Roles and Responses of Reporters
‘… objectivity is a newsroom issue we’ve tackled head-on since the first few days after Katrina hit.’
By Kate Magandy
Reminding Readers of What Is No Longer There (2 comments)
An Essay in Words and Photographs
By John Fitzhugh
A Steadfast Editorial Voice
‘… anything that does not have a practical application appears pompous in print in the aftermath of genuine disaster and tragedy.’
By Tony Biffle
Impossible to Ignore: A Mental Health Crisis Changes a Community and a Reporter’s Focus (3 comments)
‘Only after several months of covering these issues am I beginning to understand the scope and dimensions of the crisis.’
By Joshua Norman
Katrina Fatigue: Listeners Say They’ve Heard Enough
‘What we hear is not that it’s time to stop our coverage of Katrina’s aftermath: We hear that we need to do it better.’
By Susan Feeney
The Friends of The Times-Picayune Relief Fund
By Susan Feeney
On-the-Ground Reporting: Why It Matters
‘… sometimes editors — and not just reporters — need to walk in the steps of the people they cover.’
By Liz Szabo
Investigating What Went Wrong and Why
‘As it turns out, many of the systemic failures that plagued the Gulf Coast during and after Katrina should have been predicted ….’
By Jenni Bergal
Teaching Journalism in the Digital Age
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Incubating Innovation at Journalism Schools
With the online generation entering college, some key ingredients for new ways of practicing journalism are arriving with them.
By Dianne Lynch
Adapt or Die of Irrelevance
The clash between academic requirements for professors and the education students of journalism need to have grows more intense.
By Karl Idsvoog
It’s the Audience, Stupid! (1 comment)
At Stony Brook University, thousands of students are learning how to critically examine the news they encounter.
By Howard Schneider
Start Earlier. Expand the Mission. Integrate Technology.
A journalism professor offers a fresh approach to training journalists alongside those who consume news and one day might publish it.
By Kim Pearson
The Web Resides at the Hub of Learning
‘For us, the Web is entirely positive: It is a journalistic tool with wondrous powers ….’
By Nicholas Lemann
How a New J-School Takes on a Changing Profession (1 comment)
CUNY is integrating new digital technologies with the ‘eternal verities’ of reporting, writing and critical thinking.
By Stephen Shepard
Credibility Resides at the Core of Teaching Journalism
The challenge involves adjusting to the new rigors of the practice and getting students to think in digital ways.
By Jean Folkerts
Teaching What We Don’t (Yet) Know
A course about change becomes a constant work in progress as it looks to the newsrooms, audiences and forms of the future.
By Mark J. Prendergast
Digital Media Push Images to the Foreground
In the midst of big changes in the working lives of photojournalists, a former news photographer looks at how journalism schools and programs should respond.
By Lester Sloan
Journalism and Academia: How They Can Work Together
‘Neither the practical (newsroom) model nor a purely academic one is ideal for either the aspiring or the working journalist.’
By Jeffrey Scheuer
Values Reside at the Core of Journalism (1 comment)
It is these essential values that ‘make someone a good journalist, and they are what lift this work above the trivial.’
By Lou Ureneck
Passing Along the Value of Humility
‘Students need to be open-minded about the best way to tell each story rather than seeing rich media as mere add-ons to word-driven narratives.’
By Mike McKean
Multimedia Journalism Changes What Universities Teach
‘Creating multimedia stories will require flexibility, a collaborative spirit, and strategic planning,’ and these are essential skills that must now be learned.
By Jerome Aumente
Pushing and Prodding Latin American Journalism Schools to Change (1 comment)
A Colombian journalist makes it more likely that students will learn how to ‘think online’ so they will be prepared to enter the job market in this digital era.
By Guillermo Franco
Newsroom Training: Essential, Yet Too Often Ignored
‘Only a third of news organizations increased their training budgets in the past five years ….’
By Michele McLellan and Tim Porter
Words & Reflections
Foreign Correspondence: Old Practices Inform New Realities (1 comment)
‘Evelyn Waugh’s book can’t be read without thinking of today’s wars and how reporters cover them.’
By Cameron McWhirter
Type Creates a Visual Signature for Newspapers
‘In a marketplace where content and quality once drove consumer decisions, the newspaper now competes visually in a design-savvy, 24-hour free-information age.’
By Ally Palmer
The Lure of China
‘… we need to find a way to be both passionate about a subject and dispassionate about its effects and influences on our own country.’
By David D. Perlmutter
Curator's Corner
Plowing New Ground in Journalism Education
‘This should not be a discussion of how to graft the latest onto the existing.’
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
The Poet’s Voice Surfaces in a Time of War
‘All of us have notebooks and brains full of narrative poetry.’
By Eliza Griswold
Tracing Photographic Roots Brings Work Into Perspective
‘A good photograph to me is one that combines something of the past, the present, and the possible future.’
By Eli Reed