During the worst of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, I wondered whether the media was reporting the full extent of the lawless violence in New Orleans. That kind of frightful story, after all, isn’t as heart-wrenching and charity-inspiring as that of the desperate plight of thousands of innocent people victimized by slow government. However, I figured that the media is self-absorbed enough to diligently report any attacks upon them. Apparently, I was wrong. This first-hand account from a Reuters reporter suggests that the violence was far more widespread than reported at the time — and often directed at the well-stocked media convoys.
Here’s a bit of the flavor:
I’ve covered dozens of natural disasters around the globe, from mudslides and floods in Europe to hurricanes and tornadoes in the United States. I always considered the assignments somewhat dangerous but not extremely so, because if you know what you are doing you can easily minimize the danger — actually control your situation.
Not so in New Orleans, where after one day of covering a storm and its aftermath I found myself covering a human tragedy of enormous proportions, compounded by a blatant criminal element bent on taking advantage of a very bad situation.
Looting is almost always found in the initial hours after a storm — particularly if the area hit is a poorer neighborhood. But armed gangs riding in pick-up trucks, shots being fired from the ground at military rescue helicopters overhead and media vehicles being hijacked are not things you expect.
Read the whole article for the details. It’s short but revealing.