Disaster in Truth and Reporting Essay

Submitted By maxeys17
Words: 662
Pages: 3

Disaster in Truth and Reporting
Hurricane Katrina was the second strongest hurricane in the United States. As early as August 26, 2005, Louisiana had been declared a state of emergency with landfall of the hurricane hitting the United States on August 29, 2005. Katrina was a slow moving hurricane which is worse than a faster moving hurricane due to the fact the storm stays over the same area longer. Storm surge waves came in and at their highest point they were twenty five feet in height. This broke the previously set record in 1969 (Surviving Katrina). Rainfall amounts exceeded eight and ten inches along the hurricane path. These statistics were the beginning of the costliest hurricanes in the United States history and was the beginning of a media firestorm in the aftermath of the hurricane. In an effort to be the first to report information, reporters spewed out information at a high rate of speed without checking the validity of all the reports.
Matt Welch’s article “They Shoot Helicopters, Don’t They?” stated that the main cause of false reports were due to the severe communication breakdown. Not only did reporters fail to not believe every story and report the story, they were overzealous in wanting to be the first to report the story. A news article about shots being fired at military helicopters surfaced and spread like wildfire. Celebrities like Tiger Woods even commented about the outrageousness of such attack which also leads to people perceiving the story as true. This inaccurate reporting also led to delays in proper emergency and law enforcement responses.
Brian Thevenot’s article “Myth-Making in New Orleans” was written due to his experience of his own lack of research in stories before reporting them. He was along first hand with soldiers that could have debunked a story of thirty to forty bodies in a freezer if he had only followed through with investigating. They all chose not to open the freezer to see what was inside and believed that the bodies were in there based on someone else’s report. Although he corrected the story of the freezer report as well as many of the other countless erroneous reports of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, his correction led to many other corrections. These corrections led others to perceive that the media was quick to make judgments about the victims based upon their ethnicity as well as their class.
Welch and Thevenot’s articles both had a tone that led me to rethink the old saying “can’t believe everything you hear.” They both talked about how much confusion and problems that the false reporting created. Welch made no qualms about saying that reporters failed themselves for