Devastating Louisiana floods: the media has failed
The management team at Face Activities extends our deepest sympathies to the victims of the terrible floods in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and across the state. We recognize that families there have lost loved ones, beloved pets, and property to the rising waters. This is a tremendous loss that has occurred in a state that is all too familiar with the dangers of floods.
A terrible tragedy is unfolding in the United States, far from the splendor, and petty controversies, of the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Across Louisiana, following nearly three feet of heavy rains and subsequent flooding over a week-long period, over 40,000 homes are underwater, and 13 people have died. At one point the waters rose by four feet in one hour, making it very difficult for people to react effectively in this crisis. The disaster is so extensivie that nearly one third of the state’s Parishes will qualify for federal disaster relief. The extent of the damage surpasses the record-breaking flood of 1983, and brings back memories of the destruction and displacement following Hurricane Catrina.
In our modern world it’s easy to forget the awesome power of nature, and how damaging water and weather can be. The media has not helped, and has not provided adequate coverage of this devastating flood, giving priority to Olympic coverage, the Presidential election, and other events around the world. It seems extraordinary, but this catastrophic natural disaster, with such wide-ranging impact upon so many families across the region, has been relegated to second-class story status, while the drunken antics of Olympic swimmer Brian Lochte and his foolish friends take center stage, and Donald Trump’s legendary buffoonery occupies pundits and hogs air time. In fact, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has been highly critical of the media’s coverage during the flood, and its dreadful aftermath.
And right-wing news sources aren’t pulling any punches, shamelessly using the flood as a way to criticize President Obama, their favorite pastime, for not visiting the flood-ravaged state. In fact, Governor John Bel Edwards has defended the Obama Administration’s handling of the crisis so far. The White House, and FEMA, have been responsive and available, even with President Obama caught away from Washington, on vacation. And Governor Edwards prefers that President Obama visit in a couple of weeks, due to the resources needed to safely secure a Presidential visit.
We need a media that is responsive to real-world concerns, and sensitive to genuine tragedy and human-displacement around the world. The media has failed to cover the unfolding catastrophe in Louisiana adequately, while it appears the government is responding properly–a surprising switch from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The American people need to be fully aware of the extent of the crisis in Louisiana, and motivated to help. That’s not likely to occur with the current state of affairs, and it will have very negative consequences for the victims of the current flood. The major media providers, including legendary franchises like The New York Times, need to take stock of their failings, and mend their ways. Charitable giving closely maps to media coverage.