Dear News Media

As usual, the national print coverage of the Katrina aftermath has been good if not excellent (e.g. Knight Ridder), while the national TV and radio coverage has been mediocre. That's not to say that CNN, NPR and others haven't filed some oustanding reports from New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but (unfortunately) their reporting stops there. Many refugees are starved for information about their cities and homes, and the national news media aren't providing it.

I know it's hard to fathom, but the function of news reporting isn't solely to fill corporate coffers with advertising dough wrung from others' suffering. It's also to inform the public.

I am that public. Many of my friends are that public.

We who fled New Orleans would like to know the state of our homes. CNN has show innumerable helicopter shots of New Orleans, careful to pan east where the worst flooding is, and to zoom in on the Superdome and the fire on the West Bank. That leads me to believe that CNN is capable of determining what parts of the city aren't yet flooded, how fast the water may or may not be moving and how high the water appears to be from various rooftops. That would be useful information. Wolf Blitzer in his "situation room" could show a map with, say, blue indicating where water is. He could tell us where the water isn't. This could take, say, five minutes, tops.

We who fled South and Central Mississippi (and those who remained) would like to know the state of Hattiesburg, Meridian, Laurel, Brookhaven, Jackson and other places that, unfortunately, don't provide the dramatic footage available on the Gulf Coast. There are, however, plenty of trees down and homes wrecked. Might that not justify a quick trip north, Mr. Cooper? We promise to have plenty of starving, heat-exhausted people desperate for a meal and a drink. We promise to give you lots of tragic stories of families torn apart, relatives lost and couples reunited. Come, will you? Please? Those of us who fled would like to know if we can go back. Those who remained would like to know (if they have batteries and a portable TV) where and when food and ice and water will arrive, and when the phones and lights and water will work. Well, CNN, NPR, MSNBC and FOX, can you spare one reporter and a camera crew?

UPDATE: We finally got somebody on the phone in Laurel, Mississippi. The power's supposed to return on Sunday. I found no reporting on this; even Mississippi Power's website had nothing. How did we find out? A phone call to neighbors in Laurel (the phone must've come back on in the last 24 hours).

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