A year ago, television journalists were plunged into unimaginable hell, telling the story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath that devastated one of America’s great cities, killed 2,000 people on the Gulf Coast and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee for their lives.
It was a horror that played out on America’s TV screens, filmed live by cameras in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and Superdome and dozens of other places where men and women died en masse. And when the statements of local, state and federal officials didn’t jibe with what was happening on the ground, America saw that, too. The work of journalists including NBC’s Brian Williams, Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith, ABC’s Ted Koppel and CNN’s Anderson Cooper stood out amid the destruction, and the media rediscovered its role of strongly questioning public officials, their actions and their promises.
Although the story has been knocked off the top of newscasts by what has happened since, each of the networks has quietly or not-so-quietly made Katrina coverage a priority and devoted resources to covering the region’s struggles to rebuild and the setbacks they have faced on many fronts.