I’m going to be making a presentation to a special interest group at the American Educational Research Association’s upcoming conference.
My topic? Blogging in post-Katrina New Orleans.
My idea is to recount five or so of the biggest stories to emerge from the local blogosphere since the flooding of the city in 2005. I mean “stories” in the broadest possible sense, not just investigative journalism or any other narrow conception of the term.
So I’ve compiled my list, but I thought this might be a fun game to play — and also a helpful reality check for me. What are the top five stories in your opinion? I will share mine in due time but I’d really like to see what people say independently first.
I would love to hear your take, and as I said it will help me as I prepare my talk.
Top 5 Stories, from my perspective?
1- is going to be any personal story of storm recovery. The subtext in all New Orleans stories over the last 5 years is “How did YOU (or I) react to the storm?” It is a centralizing theme of all blogging about the city and the personal worked it’s way into everyone’s writing, whether they wanted it to or not, and shaped how they focused the rest of their energy.
2- The city’s collective unwillingness to address the fundamental weakness of our economy and how that both contributed to the people left behind and the struggle of the city to recover. How issues of economy play into blight, crime, education, personal hurricane readiness and so many other issues.
3- The hit and miss effects of “neighborhood empowerment” and “citizen involvement”. While many neighborhoods have done many proactive things to improve the city and have stood up many of the basic city functions in the lack of any clear direction from city hall, there have been cases where neighborhood parochialism and a reactionary NIMBYism have held back the city and failed to see how a narrow focus on minor neighborhood issues and fears prevented policies and development that benefit the city as a whole. Citizen involvement has a mixed legacy as well. It has brought many improvements but it also has the potential to hold back other needed improvements. I am now specifically worried about how this is going to play out in both education and the criminal justice system.
4- those kids from Portland. I’m using Portland as a catch-all here but the influx of young people coming to New Orleans has been one of the major stories. Once again the effects are mixed. Many of them don’t seem to understand what they are getting themselves into or the history of the city. And even if their intentions are good, often their misunderstandings lead to either false assumptions, misguided protests (and I guess I am remembering the rent-a-protesters trying to keep the housing projects), frustrations on both sides and in a couple of tragic instances incredibly bad outcomes for them. There is potential here and god knows we need the population so this is going to be interesting to see how this plays out and whether they get tired of trying to “save’ us and can transition into a workforce, or if they will get frustrated by the lack of opportunity (or the crime situation) and go back home.
5- The planners and preservationists trying to kill us all. It’s a bit of hyperbole, of course, but from the original green dot proposal, to it’s echo (from the same group, no less) in the plan to destroy I-10. The preservationists and their old money allies who resist any change to the city that would possibly challenge their place at the top of the pecking order, which is at the heart of the new hospital debate, there is an ongoing debate about whether New Orleans can be a modern American city with a thriving and diverse economy or whether it is going to be turned into a museum, based in tourism that reinforces a status quo that has a city only for the old money and their maids with a smattering of culture vultures looking to ossify the things they claim to love. We got a “master plan” for the next 20 years that is contemptuous of the future, that refused to take into account our actual history of being a commercial center in favor of putting our houses before our jobs as if we could keep our houses without our jobs. And how every planning solution seems to lead to reduced capacity and reduced potential is a solution for the city to continuously struggle. You get the feeling that not only is it the planners and preservationists city but not only do you just live here but they’d prefer it if you didn’t because all those modern people with their needs are just getting in the way of their grand, old and empty city.
That is my 5 big stories of the last 5 years.
2) anything about andre duany getting lured down here to waste his time as well as my neighbors time during the charettes that turned out the be bullshit and another false carrot hung in front of the face of the people of gentilly.
3) the fix the pumps blog
5.b) mike h. and fam’s blogs
[…] Two things:Editor B’s query into the five biggest NOLA blogger stories since 2005 – add your own answers to his comments. A certain yaller blogger thought the Hostilidays was one of the best contributions, which […]
1) Resist development at all costs. Fuck the hospital, save the termite infested houses instead.
2) Cops on trial. About time this police department exposed as thuggish.
3) New mayor appoints public relations expert as police chief as crime soars. For example: Messy Mya dead. Pat O’Brien’s bartender dead. Thugs ambush cops in Broadmoor. Guns everywhere.
4) White Mayor elected. Even blacks could not take it anymore.
5) I move back to Orleans Parish. Have I lost my fucking mind?
I think Anthony’s story number 5 is more than just a post-Katrina story. It’s actually a good read on the past 20-30 years of life in this city. And what we can expect going forward.
I got a good response when I posted this query to the NOLA-Bloggers list. Those results don’t appear here, of course, but they will factor into my presentation big-time.
Anthony: I appreciate the passion — though as usual I don’t quite agree — but anyway those are big stories. However they don’t seem to be blogging stories per se. Not sure if you saw those themes emerge from the local blogosphere or if that’s just your personal take. I assume the latter.
Yeah, they were my 5 top stories.
I’m gonna bet that the New Orleans blogosphere came up with…
2) Ray – corruption, scandal, malaise.
3) the hospitals
4)Road home (both the program and the actual recovery)
5) tie: the projects/SWB/crime cameras.
There was probably even a little flattery going on with someone naming the Lafitte corridor. That’s just my guess.
I happen to think I’m working in bigger themes. I’d be curious to see what the blogger native/non-native ratio is cause the first half dozen that come to my mind are from somewhere else. But I’m not very deep into the local blogosphere so I might be missing someone.
Maybe we’re disconnecting on the basic concept here. I’m giving a talk about local blogs to a special interest group that’s focused on technology. I’m looking for stories that emerged from the blogs in some significant way, rather than just bloggers reflecting on stories that emerged elsewhere. So, for example, there seems to be widespread agreement that Karen Gadbois’ work to expose the corruption in NOAH is a prime example. I guess that might fit under your #2 guess, but it’s much more specific.
The Lafitte Corridor wasn’t mentioned but I’ll be sure to work in a reference somehow!
The NOAH scandal is the most obvious choice, because Lee Zurik acknowledged that he had received a few emails and phone calls about the agency but didn’t follow through on them until Karen Gadbois exposed it.
Some of the American Zombie stuff comes to mind, but I don’t know which would have remained buried if not for Dambala and which were a matter of the press merely being slower.
I assume you’ve thought of those and probably already looked through AZ for examples. Sorry, nothing less obvious comes to mind off the top of my head.
Wow, just noticed the date on the post. Didn’t realize how out of touch I had gotten.
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