New Takes on the Post-Katrina Struggle

I spent last fall teaching a seminar at the University of Maryland on media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. It was both enlightening and sobering. The ongoing post-K struggle of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is one hell of a story, a 21st-century American saga like no other. New Orleans in particular is wrestling with multiple government failures, rapid environmental changes, and bewildering social and economic problems.

But the MSM has, with some notable exceptions, gotten bored with Katrina. Media outlets tend to see it as a one-note story, and they've already hit that note many times. Onto the primaries!

Only Brad Pitt's starpower got the Lower 9th Ward back into the media last month; Ann Curry and others gushed while Pitt, who has a house in the city, explained his project to build sustainable homes.

But that means there's room for more enterprising takes on the Katrina story -- the pre-and post-K problems and struggles have so many more facets than you'll ever see on CNN. This past year, George Soros's Open Society Institute funded more than two dozen journalists (including me), photographers, filmmakers, and artists so they could do just that. Now much of the work has been collected here. It deals with a broad array of stuff, from jazz to ethnicity, from flood control to politics, to the character of New Orleans neighborhoods, in many different media. Please check it out.