Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEMA's still on a roll

Hey, I have funny things I want to blog about. Stories, anecdotes, observations - you know what I try to do here every day. But FEMA just won't let me. Today, the federal agency most in apparent need of an enema announced that it doesn't want the news media taking photos of the dead bodies being recovered from the flooded areas in New Orleans. Journalists who have requested to accompany rescue boats have been rejected. (Space is needed on the rescue boats, you see.) No idea if "Brownie" signed off on this one or not.

Look, I understand (more than you may know, in fact) that those who have died warrant our respect. They don't deserve the indignity of being plastered all over newspaper front pages, magazine covers, and web sites for sensationalistic (or politically opportunisitic) gains.

But I don't think it serves a purpose to put a blindfold over people's eyes and tell them things are okay. If there's anything positive that can be taken from the tragedies of the past week, it's the revival of journalism. The print and broadcast media finally remembered what it's supposed to do.

Tell us what's happening - don't read us a press release, don't feed us talking points, don't give us only what the government wants people to hear. Tell us what is actually, really happening.

So if there are dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dead bodies that are being discovered now that New Orleans is being drained, I think the public needs to know that. And they need to see it. Nothing gratuitous or exploitive. It's not necessary to shock or disgust, either. But show us what's happening. This is the news. This is what's going on. And that's been kept from us for far too long.

Let the journalists take the photos, FEMA, if for no other reason than your director needs the news to keep up with what's actually going on.

(Image from "Speed Bump" ©2005 Dave Coverly/ Dist. by Creators Syndicate, Inc.)