Citizen Journalism Done Right

A+My passing allusion to the value of citizen journalists in a situation such as New Orleans triggered a search for the blog I read daily during that time. As usual, I found it where I least expected: in a folder named NOLA right here on my C: drive. I wasn't sure if Michael Barnett's original blog was even in existence anymore, but it is, and he's still adding to it even now. Although there are plenty of examples of citizen journalism gone terribly wrong, this one was done exactly right. Running on diesel power, this guy—with a lot of help from his friends—kept the incisive reports coming, video and all. Disturbing news, and frequently appalling images accomplished what the professional journalists could not. Rounded with his own able commentary, Barnett's blog goes beyond mere reporting and squarely into the realm of bona fide journalism.

The constant is that we fight. In fact, right here in New Orleans, as soon as the winds began to abate, the social order collapsed and looting and skirmishing picked up. And the looting wasn't limited to people in need who were searching to meet their needs for survival; rather, residences and businesses were looted of everything from food to plasma television sets by people ranging in class from the cyclically poor to the political class and their enforcement agencies. It seems like man is never more than one thunderstorm away from turning on his neighbor.

An editor at the Metro Times in Detroit, Sarah Klein does a fine job of summarizing Michael's story here. I don't think there's anything I could add, except perhaps that, unlike so many connected with the New Orleans fiasco, his story has a happy ending. You can immediately see that from recent entries to his blog. All the best, you two!


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