Katrina: 10 Years of Media Neglect

Katrina survivors in the Astrodome (photo: Andrea Booher/FEMA)This week on CounterSpin: It will soon be the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a devastating event that killed at least 1,800 people across the Gulf Coast region and displaced as many as half a million, followed by rebuilding efforts that were bungling and divisive.

Katrina was a major story for US media; reporters on the scene seemed viscerally affected and conveyed a sense of urgency and outrage at the lumbering federal response. And NBC‘s Brian Williams famously announced, “If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we’ve failed.”

We didn’t really have that national discussion in a sustained way. Some media did better at acknowledging the impact of racism and poverty that meant the disaster hit some people much harder than others, but the serious work you’d hope would follow such recognition for the most part failed to materialize.

Hurricane Katrina is still affecting communities on the Gulf Coast, and some impacts are only really coming to light now. An April story in The Atlantic addressed the lasting trauma for children forced to evacuate their homes and move to new communities where they were unwelcome. More than one-third of displaced children fell at least a year behind in school.

As we look to see how media will talk about ongoing effects of Katrina and the aftermath, we first go back. CounterSpin has discussed various aspects of the story over the years, and this special episode brings you some of those conversations.


This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission from FAIR.