Katrina 3-Year Coverage: Has the media forgotten the Gulf Coast?

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the world's media has lost sight of the ongoing problems in New Orleans, reports the UK's Independent, underscoring that "one of the world's most cataclysmic natural disasters, one made worse by official incompetence and corruption, is almost forgotten."

Indeed, one can do a search of news reports on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and find that in many ways the region's story is vanishing both from public discourse and the mass media landscape.

As The Independent reports:

The visitor to the rackety bars of the French Quarter and restaurants such as Brennan's, Mother's and Bayona would have no idea that, even now, there is mile after mile of blighted housing a few minutes from the commotion of Bourbon Street. One third of the city's population has yet to return, their homes wrecked or demolished, thousands still live in trailers, thousands more are waiting to be paid their rehousing allowance or insurance money. A recent survey published by The Times-Picayune showed that increasing numbers were thinking of leaving the city for good, citing increasing stress, poor health facilities, crime and corruption.

Instead, coverage by the international and national news media in the run-up to the anniversary is negligible, with only a report by the news agency Reuters contrasting the elegant streets of the French Quarter with areas like New Orleans East, where "many houses slowly rot, still bearing on their walls the painted marks left by the US military to show whether corpses were inside."

"I don't think [New Orleans is] on people's minds," Times-Picayune's editor Jim Amoss told The Independent. "We have to contend with those voices, particularly on pop radio, which say 'New Orleanians with their eternal whining - why don't they pull themselves up by their boot straps?'"

Yet, even as the larger media outlets have lessened reportage on the region, many local bloggers continue to keep a critical eye on recovery. As The Times-Picayune reported, bloggers and online activists can and do play an important role in telling the stories of Gulf Coast residents and in covering the recovery.

As the three-year anniversary approaches and beyond, we at Facing South will continue to report on the troubled recovery and the continued barriers to rebuilding in the region. The stories of residents of the Gulf Coast remain important not only to the South, but to the nation.