Sunday, December 18, 2005

This, My Friends, is Journalism

The NY Times didn’t wait for a press release. They didn’t wait for someone to call a press conference. They went out and got the information themselves.

What an effing original idea:
The Times conducted more than 200 interviews with relatives, neighbors and friends of the victims, and culled information from local coroners and medical examiners, census data, obituaries, and news articles.

The interviews add narrative and nuance to what has been a largely anonymous or purely statistical casualty list. Relatives were able to explain that what might have been listed as a simple drowning was really a tragic end to a rescue, or that medical care just a few minutes earlier might have meant the difference between life and death.
This is not the final word in how and who died in the storm. Two hundred interviews out of more than 1,000 dead do not show the whole story.

But it is the whole story for Velda Smith:
"It's ironic that you can survive a storm," but still die, said Velda Smith, who lost her sister-in-law and three teenage nieces to the floodwaters.
And for Vanessa Pereira, and Eddie Cherrie Jr., and Jack Bunn.

To those who did not lose a loved one after the storm, one person out of one million might be a tiny fraction. To the family members and friends interviewed by the NY Times, one is huge, and not just a number.

The article is a good read, though not for good reasons. But it is, without doubt, good journalism.

(Via DED Space.)

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