Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Life Cycle of a News Story About Louisiana

Well, the New York Times has pronounced that the Gulf of Mexico is naturally healing from BP's thousands-of-miles oil slick, so I guess things are all right, and we no longer have to worry.  That's right.  Nothing happening here.  Move on.

Pardon my yawn: I've heard it before, so wake me up when it's over.  The news cycle, I mean.

This happened with Katrina, and with other natural and man-made disasters that hit the Pelican State.  Basically, it goes like this:

1.  A disaster of unprecidented magnitude hits Louisiana.  There's some solid, factual reporting, and a lot of hearsay and fantasy thrown in to the mix.

2.  The next phase tries to parcel out blame for why things happened as they did:  concentrating strongly on national political opponents of the media maven in question; but throwing in a few more colorful, venal, less intellectually gifted local politicians.  Louisiana, like New Jersey and Illinois, makes it easy to find those colorful figures.  They manage to do outlandish things that help fill air time and allow the news commentator to sound superior.

3.  The recovery takes a long time, like when large parts of a city get covered by ten feet of water and crap.  "New Orleans is still rcovering from Katrina" is a story that can be filed only for a few times.  And the Gulf oil slick is still around . . . .

4.  Commentators and internet bloggers get into the act:  The reason why Louisiana is not recovering sooner is because it's populated by lazy and dumb people with a poor work ethic; in other words -- not like a New York or Californian hustler or someone who is likely to read the NYT, the SF Chronicle, or the WaPo.  It's another opportunity to play Whack the Southerner, or some other pasttime.  What, after all, can you expect of people who play the Cornhole Game or Lacrosse or Hockey or who eat scrod?

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