Thursday, December 9, 2010
From a newsman's point of view
Title: Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City
By: Jed Horne
Like Goya's signature remark "Yo lo vi, I saw it…," Jed Horne, the metro editor of New Orleans' own excellent newspaper, 'The Times-Picayune', tells it like it really was, firsthand. He and his fellow news staff continued to report the news and serve the city residents in the middle of and throughout the unfolding chaos of Hurricane Katrina. When the city's telephone landlines stopped functioning and cell phones gave out, the TP news staff kept on posting updates of present conditions via electronic format (for a brief period only) and then resumed a daily printing of the paper. Throughout this book, he conducts interviews with Ivor van Heerden, the former deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, who reminisces about his many predictions and elaborates in detail the timeline of indisputable facts. The interviews with Dr. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke are particularly moving; treating the 450 plus patients in New Orleans' Charity Hospital with no electricity or power and a shortage of essential supplies. Mr. Horne's real strength as a reporter comes when he talks with the storm victims who sought shelter in the Superdome: How did they get here? What will they do now? After seeing all the horrifying images on television of American citizens stranded on freeway on-ramps pleading for help, I wanted to get a clearer understanding of the disaster and its heartbreaking aftermath. Reading "Breach of Faith" gives me a renewed respect for the journalism profession and for their dedication to reporting the truth. The 'Times Picayune' staff won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Breaking News Reporting for "its courageous and aggressive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, overcoming desperate conditions facing the city and the newspaper."