The force of Hurricane Katrina will be felt once again on television, with a rush of newscasts and specials about the Gulf Coast disaster that claimed more than 1,300 lives a year ago.
In this case, the media penchant for anniversary reporting is more than justified.
“It’s not just the anniversary of the storm we’re marking,” said NBC News President Steve Capus.
“We went there to cover a storm and came away with something completely different, such remarkable stories about everything from American resilience and compassion to race relations, governmental failures, governmental success, pure ugly politics, all of it,” he said.
With the deep wounds that were opened, people want to see “what’s happened in the healing process, where we are, the missed opportunities, how much more do we have to go,” Capus said.
Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith agrees.
“For me, this gives us an excuse to spend company money on what I think is important,” Smith said from New York this week, before travelling to Louisiana and Mississippi.
Smith said he hoped to find stories of “triumph over tragedy” and to highlight areas where efforts to rebuild and regroup, especially in New Orleans, might be falling short.
Newscasters don’t have a corner on the story. Filmmaker Spike Lee’s four-hour HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, is airing in its entirety Tuesday, Aug. 29, the date that Katrina made landfall.