Thursday, March 20, 2008

I had a nagging feeling

I log on to the Times-Picayune website nearly every day top read local news. I have even been known to buy a copy at my local coffee shop and peruse the articles. I have never really got a grip on this paper. I know too little, I am ashamed to admit, of local politics to fully get a handle on the quality of reporting from the paper. I did not know how much I should believe of the stories of pumps being fixed, flooding levels etc. But it all seems very rosy ... perhaps too rosy.

The kicker came today. And not from the Times-Picayune. But from this article in the Guardian. It describes the demolishing of the public housing in New Orleans and the political machinations going on behind it. I have always felt uneasy about the demolitions and the claims that these housing projects would be replaced with mixed income housing (that would take a LOT of mixed income housing projects to equal all of those low income units). My uneasy-ness was not reassured by the Times-Picayune articles and even with my poor local political knowledge I sensed that the paper had a bias towards the demolition of the housing projects. Where was the investigative journalism? I sensed that many stones had been left unturned.

I am ashamed that it took an article from a British newspaper to confirm my suspicions. The Times-Picayune cannot be trusted to do the investigative journalism that the people of this city deserve and need. I was extremely pleased to read in this article that it is the NOLA bloggers that fulfill this vital need. This article quotes Dangerblonde!! Yet again survival and information are left to the people of this city to do for themselves. The professionals are incompetent, inadequate and ineffective. It really is pathetic. There are two levels to how things run in this city. One is the official level where very little gets done mixed up in mediocrity, cronyism and bureaucratic bungling. The other level is grass roots where amazing projects sprout and people with passion get things done.

This situation in this city is infuriating. Whilst the grass roots people are inspiring and I am amazed by all they accomplish, it is wrong that it should be this way. Try going to get anything official done in this town. Sure they'll be nice and call you 'baby' or 'sugar' but you'll be led on a merry dance of incompetence.

So it is not surprising that the local paper is infected with the same culture. I hope that more journalists from elsewhere come to help give us a true perspective on what is going on here. I shudder to think what the end result of demolishing these projects is going to be. I find myself in agreement with Ethan Brown in the Guardian:
"The mix of crony capitalism, tasered protesters and a complacent corporate media is sheer Shock Doctrine. " and "For New Orleanians suffering from woes ranging from a sky-high murder rate to a bulldozed public and private housing, it seems, unfortunately, that the post-Katrina tale of hardship and struggle has only just begun."