Monday, August 29, 2005

CNN Does Well On Hurricane Coverage

Written from Jasper, Alberta--

CNN showed today it could get back successfully to what it does best: cover the news, as it did very well covering the Great Hurricane of 2005, Katrina, striking New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

I've been an admirer of Soledad O'Brien for some time. On the morning show, this ever unflappable anchor outdid herself. It was one of the finest performances of her career. She was particularly good in an early interview, while the storm still raged, with Louisiana's Senator, Mary Landrieu.

I was less admiring of Anderson Cooper, who was stuck well out of the main thrust of the storm in Baton Rouge, but was pretending, not very successfully, that he was at the heart of the action.

CNN correspondents did very well in New Orleans, Gulfport and Biloxi, especially the able, empathetic Jeanne Meserve in New Orleans, although one other correspondent did say tha storm had not yet reached its worst in New Orleans, when it had just passed by.

The regular news networks, NBC and CBS, available as I watched from a hotel room in Whitecourt, Alberta, did quite well, although they did not stick with the story as long as CNN.

Again, I did not see Fox, since Canadian hotels rarely show Fox.

CNN showed how well it can do when it really works at the news. It ought to do more of this, and, by the way, CNN anchors properly emphasized the important economic aspects of the storm story, its effect on the U.S. refining and general energy supplies. Later, coverage took a darker turn after it was reported that 55 had died along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and hundreds were stranded in flooded homes in New Orleans.

I found even the Canadian broadcasting stations, such as the big local news station in Edmonton, concentrating heavily on the hurricane story, which Canadians were talking about all day.

You did not need to tell Canadians where New Orleans was and what it stood for. The Edmonton newspaper, the Journal, had a big headline on Page 1 about evacuation of the "Big Easy."

Grizzled news reporters or not, we can all empathize with the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi, and wish them well, while paying tribute to the news men and women who covered the story.

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