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Anorak | Made In Orleans

Made In Orleans

by | 6th, September 2005

‘AT first the hurricane blew in as a Silly Season story. America is hit by hurricanes all the time. The locals put up signs saying things like “Keep Out Hurricane” and “In Your Face”. It’s nothing serious. It’s a bit of fun with the weather.

So on Tuesday we were not surprised to see the Telegraph’s headline: “Wish you were here? Britons bask in sunshine as Americans flee hurricane.”

The story was served up to make us feel good about things at home. The skies in Blighty may be grey, but at least they’re not in the habit of moving faster than Princess Michael at a free lunch.

Then things changed. After a couple of weeks of non-news about non-events (Why can’t we see Tony Blair? Why can’t we deport mad mullahs? Why is John Prescott afforded a spell as the country’s leader every year?), nature has given the papers a real event to get stuck into.

Hurricane Katrina had not hit Britain, but it had destroyed large bits of the United States, and that was close enough for it to get on the Times’s front page.

“Mississippi drowning,” said the Times tastelessly on Wednesday. Given the news that many people had died – “the mayor is talking of bodies floating through the streets” – this was a cheap headline to herald a disaster that has “washed away escape routes and swallowed whole streets”.

This was a story made for the broadsheets. An entire city was underwater. It demanded the big page treatment. But the Times is small these days, and is unable to give such stories the full hit.

The city resembled Atlantis, immersed under flood waters, a non-place to be talked about in stories.

But while the Times was constrained by size to showing the little picture, on Thursday the Telegraph led with a huge shot of coast guard officer Shawn Beatty peering out of his helicopter, scanning a watery landscape for signs of life.

The Times gave over a part of its ever-shrinking front page to Ray Nairn, the mayor of New Orleans. He said it was likely thousands had died. “There are dead bodies floating in the water,” said he. “The rescuers were basically pushing them aside as they rescued people.”

While the Times looked to the internet for freely available copy, those ubiquitous blogs, to pad out its

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Posted: 6th, September 2005 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink