I've been reading a lot about how the news media has begun shifting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Recently, I saw a rather illuminating clip from Salon where very cool and calm anchors like Shephard Smith and Anderson Cooper become emotional and heavily critical while discussing the hurricane. My favorite is the first one where Senator Mary Landrieu is talking to Anderon Cooper and thanking herself and her colleagues for getting off their behinds and passing a bill to help New Orleans four days after the hurricane happened. Cooper goes crazy on Senator Landrieu, criticizing her self-congratulatory tone when dead bodies are lying in the streets. Now that is good journalism.
While I've thought a good deal about how the news reporters actions have been changed largely because of the blog community, I disagree with the notion that reporters are getting more edgy because of blogs. It seems to me that it has more to do with the reporters still having a bit of humanity left inside of them, which was brought out by seeing bodies eaten by rats. No one can dampen the anger and frustration an image like that must cause.
Jon Stewart surprised me by thanking the media for their honest and bipartisan approach to the Katrina tragedy. This was a rare moment for Stewart, who usually takes the time to eviscerate the cable news network's attitudes. Usually it's only his show that's willing to be truthful and honest about news.
Still, there were stories of media representatives pandering to the camera. Salon recently reported a story in which Geraldo Rivera saved an elderly woman and her dog in New Orleans. The Salon journalist saw Rivera walk out of a van and escort this woman to shelter and was truly amazed by it. Until, of course, a National Guardsmen told him that Rivera had already done a take of himself walking to the shelter with the woman. This was the second one because the first time just didn't look right.
I know Fox News will quickly fall into formation once the dust settles and reiterate whatever the White House wants to say. However, my greatest hope is that perhaps news reporters like Shephard Smith (whose recent fight on-air with Bill O'Reilly was classic) and Anderson Cooper will be forever changed by this tragedy and do some real journalism, where they tell the American people the truth they deserve to hear.
I wish I had a link for that Salon article, but unfortunately it seems to have disappeared into the abyss of their constant updating. You'll just have to trust me on it for now.