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Media in New Orleans: Struggle and More Struggle



NEW ORLEANS -- Preservation Hall is closed. And that's a worrisome symbol of work left to be done.

I'm in New Orleans on assignment, spending my first evening in town Tuesday at dinner with Dave Walker, TV critic for the Times Picayune newspaper and an old friend. And despite the fact that the French Quarter didn't flood much and bounced back quickly, reminders of the remaining destruction from Hurricane Katrina are everywhere.

In times past, the grand Preservation Hall music club only closed for Mardi Gras. But its doors are padlocked shut now, one of many New Orleans institutions which haven't found their way back to health, five months after the storm flooding which nearly knocked the city off the map.

That's the way Katrina impacts those who traverse the city now, surfacing in unexpected ways. French Quarter clubs party on as if nothing happened, but drive out of that neighborhood and you can travel miles without seeing a habitable house. Loads of traffic signals sit dark, portable stop signs posted hastily to keep motorists from crashing into each other.

One block might feature a bustling restaurant, with workers restoring homes or other businesses; the next block might feature little but mounds of debris and gutted houses, abandoned cars still sitting streetside -- ignored by a city still struggling to cope.

In the middle of all this, journalists like my friend Dave are struggling to keep working while facing a blizzard of personal needs -- phone calls to contractors, hassling with federal aid bureaucrats, fighting to find a decent school for their children. All the while, Dave and his compatriots at the Times Picayune are producing the kind of journalism likely to win Pulitzers and more.

I remain awed by their resolve and the obastacles they've overcome just to reach this point. And I'm honored they're willing to let me document their struggle. I apologize for the laxity in postings this week, but even as I attempted to log onto Blogger Wednesday morning to write this, the city's long distance system wouldn't connect my calls.

Just a fact of life for folks in a city that's grateful to still be alive. I'll try to post updates when I can...


I'm encouraged to see my friend and former Ft. Worth St. Telegram TV Critic Ken Parish Perkins bounce back with an incisive piece on the implications of the CW/UPN/WB project for black-centered TV. I've always wondered whether the world would really care if mediocre shows such as Half and Half wernt away; I doubt the new network would be dumb enough to cancel the most successful black-themed show on its air, the quality Everybody Hates Chris. Ken left the Star-Telegram after admitting he inserted a paragraph from an Entertainment Weekly story in his own work; he has said that instance and others were mistakes made while writing quickly. I remain torn between my friendship for Ken and the insufficiency of that explanation.

Passed over anchor guy John Roberts finally got the hint, bolting CBS for a senior reporting job at CNN. New CBS president Sean McManus all but told the world Roberts wasn't getting the network's top anchoring job, after years of speculation that he was the next in line. Rather than wait for the disappointing announcement of a deal with Katie Couric -- or worse -- Roberts has fled to the network of Anderson Cooper and Larry King. Might not be much of an improvement.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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