The supposed upsurge in "real journalism" by the corporate media that took us all by surprise in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina has long since subsided. What little glimmer it offered the poor and oppressed of the devastated Gulf Coast has largely faded. Really, it was just the sheer volume of media attention that allowed a gleaning of decent coverage, selected here and there from hundreds of corporate outlets looking at issues surrounding the catastrophe and the calamitous government response to it.
So we have decided to do something about the gap. For weeks now we have been receiving tips and reports about all manner of issues the mainstream media has been ignoring, and we can't help but investigate.
NewStandard co-founder and primary editor Jessica Azulay is right now on a flight to New Orleans, where she will gather and report stories over the next eight days or so, picking up the slack and filling in the holes left by the corporate media as they move on to bigger and sexier stories about reopening casinos and strip clubs.
Her main focuses will be: the controversial "rebuilding" of New Orleans and its effect on the city's hardest-hit residents; the brutal "police state" environment reported in NOLA's poorest neighborhoods; the plight of refugees still in shelters throughout the region; and grassroots community efforts the Crescent City's impoverished black majority to take care of themselves in spite of federal agencies and national charities that have ignored and betrayed them for six weeks.
Jessica's trip is costly (though less expensive than sending a freelancer), and it was not included in our 2005 budget. If you feel like we do that this is one of the defining stories of our time, please send donations earmarked for our special Katrina coverage. You can do so at our one-time donations page. Revenues above and beyond our immediate costs will help send more TNS journalists to the area or else be contributed to resident-led grassroots relief and rebuilding efforts already underway in New Orleans -- not FEMA or the Red Cross or any other giant, money-guzzling, elite-friendly organizations.
We believe, as we have been told again and again, that TNS has been unsurpassed in its coverage of the varied and complex issues surrounding the Katrina disasters -- natural and human-driven. We are uniquely capable of reporting relevant, credible news from the perspective of those most affected. Please help us tell their stories and explore their plight. All donations to The NewStandard are tax-deductable in the US.
Also please note that our coverage of other issues might be slightly lighter over the next week as our main editor is on assignment.
UPDATE 1: We are pleased to announce that in the first 24 hours of this special fund drive, we raised $1,500 in generous donations, for which we are tremendously grateful. That amount will more than cover the costs of Jessica Azulay's week in New Orleans. However, Jessica is already reporting that it is clear we will need to send another reporter to the area before long. It will be especially crucial to have someone on the ground as more residents return and the future shape of the city begins to be determined more clearly. Therefore, we would like to continue the drive so that we can carry on with our important coverage, and we encourage those who have not to contribute to our efforts.
UPDATE 2: Jessica is already following two quite remarkable stories out of Louisiana. One is about an impoverished, largely Native American town that was mostly spared by Katrina but flooded by Rita, where residents are particularly desperate. They claim FEMA has not showed its face and is offering only empty promises of showing up, and that the Red Cross arrived with aid only days ago. The other is a startling report detailing aspects of the police state that governs much of New Orleans, including the startling circumstances of detainees and the disturbing conditions of their release.