Sunday, September 18, 2005

The fading spotlight

As predicted, national media interest in Katrina-related issues is waning. In today's major papers, although there is no shortage of attention to news about evacuees and their new circumstances or to the communities that continue to give what they have to those displaced by the storm, the attention of the nation's op-ed writers, at least, is fading fast. Senate hearings about Judge John Roberts have captured the attention. Although this isn't surprising, it does mean that continued commentary about events still unfolding on the ground across Louisiana will need to be generated by state and local journalists --because no one else is going to do it. The days when simple generalizations about "federal failures" or "state failures" or "local failures" constituted sufficient analysis are over. The challenge for media who now live with the storm's effects is to embrace the subtleties by providing both context and interpretation of the place they know best: Louisiana. Broad generalizations that tap into already-existing national political themes are counterproductive and will add little to the quality of discussion about what went wrong, why, and what happens next. The national media may be losing interest, but the story is far from over.