Monday, September 26, 2005

Superdome report from the Times-Picayune

Conditions in the Dome were bad, but not as bad as have been reported. Via Wide Awake Cafe there is this report from the Times-Picayune which does not square with last week's reports of multiple rapes, murders and roving bands of armed thugs.

That the nation's front-line emergency management believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent. As the fog of warlike conditions in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath has cleared, the vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

Pretty lengthy article, but important to note before last week's exaggerated impressions become too deeply and improperly locked in memory

Lesson: Listen and read everything and think about it. Discuss, report and contemplate the meaning, even if reports turn out not to be factual. But don't stop listening and thinking until all the facts are in. And when the next time comes -- and it will -- consider what constructive responses are in the box?

I still think it would be a good idea to have reporters "embedded" with first responders, just as they now travel with the military. Television images and live broadcasts would have the effect of generating a rapid response on the part of officials driven to be pro-active instead of pointing fingers and covering their behinds.

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