As Hurricane Barry makes its way into Louisiana, Americans brace themselves for impact. A somber sky slowly towers over the bayou state and the waters slowly rise. The Washington Post paints an even dimmer picture of Louisianans fleeing for their lives with their final few belongings.
But meanwhile on Bourbon street:
The rain poured down on the VP of Operations, Indri, and I yesterday as we continued our slow trek across the deep south. The roads got increasingly slippery. Our vision was blinded by the downpour. We knew we would make it through the wet highways of Mississippi, but we were only left to wonder how bad the storm had become down in New Orleans.
Naturally, we turned to Twitter to find the answer to our wonders. We looked, only to find that the mainstream media was up to its old tricks: making a mountain out of a molehill. And while Hurricane Barry may not be just a molehill, it was not the apocalyptic catastrophe The Washington Post made it seem:
— The City Of New Orleans (@CityOfNOLA) July 12, 2019
Hurricane Barry is a category one hurricane. Sure, that doesn’t mean it’s a slight drizzle. But that also doesn’t mean that The Washington Post was perfect in its reporting. The basics of economics teach us that people (and businesses) respond predictably to incentives. When disaster strikes, what’s to stop Bezos’s blog from pouncing on the suffering of others to make a quick buck.
So, for the moment, let’s keep our eyes open about this thing.
Let’s be very clear about a few things:
– this is not an existential threat to New Orleans
– it could still be very bad
— Jeff Adelson (@jadelson) July 13, 2019
Contra WaPo, we aren’t in hell yet. Louisianans aren’t running for the hill with their dogs on their shoulders hoping to escape the storm. They’re partying hard. But maybe not for long. The hurricane can still do serious damage, but the reporting raises a substantial issue with the way media handles disaster today.
Once the crisis in Sudan hit the media circles, Instagram users were quick to jump on the opportunity to show their moral purity. I wrote about these self-congratulatory efforts with disdain. It disgusts me that people use a media image of catastrophe for their own moral profit. In the same way, The Washington Post is using Hurricane Barry for its own financial profit.
There’s not much that can be done about it, but we must understand that the media lies. Modern journalism is not here to tell the truth; it’s here to make money. It’s the sad reality we live in, but it’s what we have to deal with. Modernity comes with baggage, so we must keep a watchful eye as the new journalism as our brave new world preaches to us an increasingly augmented version of the truth.
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