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Media “Blackout” in New Orleans

September 7, 2005

French Quarter
With the recent destruction of New Orleans, and the lawless aftermath there now exists an exetremely volatile circumstance. While the mayor declares a final evacuation to “forcibly remove” those that remain, the city of New Orleans will finally be a militarized zone. Reporters covering instances of “looting” or shootouts will continue to have their images and equipment confiscated and be physically threatened (Reporters Without Borders). The portrayal of people in most need will be demonized and marginalized as criminals, further encouraging racist stereotypes. The death and destruction are also images that the administration doesn’t want the general public to see. Much like the returning corpses and caskets of occupied Iraq, the media was requested, by FEMA, not to run images of dead bodies, because “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.” In my opinion FEMA is more interested in covering up the destruction which they are required to prevent and respond to.
There also will be an amazing opportunity for slimy politicians and businesses to make a buck, as Democracy Now! reports today,

“…former head of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh, may stand to profit from the catastrophe in the Gulf region through his various lobbying efforts.”
He headed FEMA until March 2003 just as the U.S. was launching its invasion of Iraq. Then Allbaugh helped form a lobbying firm called New Bridge Strategies in order to help clients “take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” New Bridge Strategies was also formed by several top executives from the lobbying firm then known as Barbour Griffith & Rogers. The head of that firm was Haley Barbour who is now the Republican governor of Mississippi. Earlier this year Joe Allbaugh signed on as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary KBR in order to “educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues.” Just last week the federal government announced that Halliburton would be hired to repair the Gulf Coast military bases damaged by Katrina. And now the Washington Post is reporting that Allbaugh is also helping Louisiana “coordinate the private-sector response to the storm.”

It appears very convenient to remove the citizens of a locale, especially “dangerous” people of color, so that Multi-National businesses like Halliburton may have an easier time revitalizing a city that has been totally demolished.
I find the connections and possible financial gain by the same manipulative politicains and businessmen who brought us the Iraq war, apalling and disgusting. And I wish to encourage all journalists and photographers to document every aspect of the military occupation of New Orleans, as well as the carnage and death that is becoming more apparent every day. There are many outlets for this reporting and it is exetremely necessary for civil society to know how this disaster is being handled. For those that don’t have access to news media and are documenting these events, some suggestions are posting imagery and reporting on Indymedia, or even publishing photos on Fickr. Media activists in Houston are setting up a microradio station right now! There are so many forms of Independent media and they need to be utilized. If you have other suggestions please post them in the comments.


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2 comments on “Media “Blackout” in New Orleans”

Why are there private security forces, like Blackwater, in New Orleans?
Why aren’t there more media reports from independant sources coming out of New Orleans?
Im sickened and disgusted, still, by the way the media reports on the circumstances in New Orleans and other refugee situations in the South. And why aren’t racists and classist statements made by bigots like Bill O’Reilly contested by mainstream media, politicians, and superstars?
I ask rhetorically because I know that we live in a racist and classist country and only expect more from people who know that we (you and me) should be doing more than donating to ineffective organizations like the Red Cross.
im so friggin pissed off

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