Jan
15
2010

Bill Fletcher on Haiti, Beau Hodai on Charles Overby

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Haiti's status as the poorest nation in the hemisphere has been mentioned time and again by journalists covering the current catastrophe, but where were journalists before the earthquake hit? And how are they doing in explaining the larger context of how Haiti got to this point? We'll talk to Bill Fletcher, former president of TransAfrica Forum and executive editor of The Black Commentator. Also on the show: Charles Overby is CEO of the Freedom Forum, a foundation ostensibly dedicated to principles of free speech and a free press. He's also a director and shareholder […]

Sep
04
2009

Jordan Flaherty on Katrina anniversary, Sarah Anderson on executive pay

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Corporate media promised to pay more attention to poverty and race after the Gulf Coast's Katrina disasters in 2005, and for a short time they did a little more reporting. But where was the followup on this year’s August anniversary, when papers like the Washington Post and L.A. Times, and networks like ABC and Fox offered essentially no coverage at all. We'll talk to journalist Jordan Flaherty, reporting the story since 2005, about the stories from the continuing Katrina crisis that the corporate media don't seem to care much about. Also on the show--a […]

Sep
02
2009

Erasing Katrina

Four years on, media mostly neglect an ongoing disaster

August 29 marked the fourth anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The devastation wrought by both the hurricane itself and the government's inept response prompted remarkably critical corporate media coverage that promised to fight for Katrina survivors and change the way we talk about poverty and race (FAIR Media Advisory, 9/9/05). As NBC's Brian Williams told the St. Petersburg Times (3/1/06), "If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we've failed." But four years later, corporate media outlets seem to […]

Jul
01
2007

Disposable People

The ‘upside’ to natural and unnatural disasters

As Hurricane Katrina tore off roofs and exposed the destroyed interiors of homes, it also peeled back the genteel veneer on elite media opinion about New Orleans—revealing that some pundits and reporters viewed the majority of its residents to be essentially irrelevant, if not an outright impediment, to the restructuring of the city’s devastated economy. Whether urban social devastation results from corporate decisions to relocate jobs or a nature-triggered catastrophe, major U.S. media seem to view cities as first and foremost engines of economic growth and profit, with the local population’s needs and culture viewed as barely worthy of mention […]

Sep
01
2006

Sue Sturgis on Katrina anniversary, Heather Boushey on welfare 'reform'

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was marked by media outlets remembering, among other things, those few days when some reporters decided they wouldn't tolerate lying and deception from government officials. But what's happened on the Gulf Coast since then, away from the cameras and TV anchors? We'll speak with Sue Sturgis of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch. Also on CounterSpin today, another media anniversary: It's been ten years since the passage of so-called welfare reform, and most of the media are celebrating its success as measured by the plummeting numbers on the […]

Aug
01
2006

Katrina's Vanishing Victims

Media forget the 'rediscovered' poor

New Orleans' post-Katrina flooding (photo: Gary Nichols/US Navy)

It happened on the afternoon of September 1, three days after Hurricane Katrina pushed a wall of water onto the city of New Orleans. CNN had been airing just-received videos of tens of thousands of people trapped at the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center, without food or supplies-scenes of elderly residents left to die by the roadside, of children chanting, "We want help!" Anchor Wolf Blitzer turned to CNN commentator Jack Cafferty to ask how it could be that, with all the advance warnings of disaster bearing down on the city, so many people had still been left […]

Aug
01
2006

Reversing Course

FEMA Allows Katrina Victims To Speak to News Media

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had a policy prohibiting journalists from having unsupervised interviews with Hurricane Katrina victims who have been relocated to FEMA trailer parks—a policy that was reversed after complaints from the Baton Rouge Advocate and FAIR activists. “If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” the Advocate (7/15/06) quoted FEMA spokesperson Rachel Rodi. “That’s just a policy.” In the same article, Advocate reporter Sandy Davis described two separate interventions by FEMA security to halt interviews with people displaced by Katrina. In […]

Jul
28
2006

FEMA Reverses Media Access Policy

Will allow press access to Katrina survivors in trailer parks

After sustained pressure from FAIR activists (7/21/06, 7/25/06) and continued scrutiny from the Baton Rouge Advocate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that it had reversed its policy that severely limited media access to Hurricane Katrina survivors living in FEMA trailer parks. "We're responding to your criticism," FEMA representative James Stark told the Advocate (7/26/06). "You pointed out some very good points that we shouldn't be trying to muzzle the press.... In no way will FEMA security nor FEMA public affairs stand in the way of media entering the trailer parks with valid credentials and interviewing whomever they like." Four […]