Lessons from Hurricane Katrina reflective coverage

ESPN covered the Hurricane Katrina 10 year anniversary with a blend of stories, video, and photo galleries.
ESPN covered the Hurricane Katrina 10 year anniversary with a blend of stories, video, and photo galleries.

As the 10th anniversary coverage of Hurricane Katrina winds down, it’s worth taking a look at how a few major news organizations planned their coverage. Here are a few to check out:

The Times-Picayune’s “Ten Years Later

NPR’s special series “Hurricane Katrina: 10 years of recovery and reflection

ESPN’s “Ten Years After Katrina

The LA Times’ “Hurricane Katrina: 10 years later

Slate’s collection of stories and commentary

In addition to those, search pretty much any major news organization for “Hurricane Katrina” and you’re bound to find a reflective story or two. There’s even a great story by Times-Picayune writer Dave Walker on what it feels like — and what he learned from — being the center of national attention for this month’s, and particularly last week’s, Katrina anniversary coverage.

I’ll share a few stories in different forms with my journalists this week, and I want them to think about how they might plan reflective coverage like this for their own local audience. In order to get them thinking, I’m going to share a Google document that asks them to do a little historical research.

Here’s a link to the doc: Reflective coverage brainstorming

reflective coverage planWe’ll search through our archives, both print and online, as well as other historical records from our community. At the end, I’m hoping they find a few topics worth looking back at this year, whether they warrant a full series of coverage or one simple story.

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind, a reemerging news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. For 11 years prior to relocating to Oregon, she advised a media staff in the Silicon Valley. In her career, she has been selected as CA Journalism Teacher of the Year, a JEA Rising Star, and a DJNF Distinguished Adviser. She was formerly the JEA Web Curriculum Leader.

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