Thursday, September 1, 2005

Inbox Report: The Times-Picayune's Nola.com Becomes a Community Life Saver

Our thanks to the AP for forwarding a report from New Orleans, LA newspaper The Times-Picayune indicating that they will be resuming printing from a facility in nearby Houma, LA tonight in the wake of the tragic aftermath of hurricane Katrina. But the real story that they convey is the courage and resourcefulness of their companion Web site nola.com, which had not only superhuman efforts put into basic reporting under the most trying of circumstances but also rigging up community forums to help citizens find missing persons and loved ones, as well as postings for volunteer requirements and homes available. Between Sunday and Thursday, the Times-Picayune reports, there were more than 72 million page views on nola.com. We are of course very grateful for the dedication of these brave people and also noting the ongoing importance of professional community news organizations in times of crisis. The webloggers have of course played a pivotal role in this drama as well, but when you need a definitive voice and a strong central community, that's not their role. Organizations dedicated to a community as opposed to a single view or set of views within a community remain an essential component of content formation. Today's news organizations are discovering through natural disasters such as Katrina and through their responses to the economic pressures shaping a changing landscape of commercial news content to adapt to the new needs of their readers and form new ways to serve them. As a person with family above and below ground in New Orleans (all safe) I thank The Times-Picayune for showing the way to combining professional and personal content in such a powerful way at this critical time.

Here is a portion of a recent posting on the nola.com forum covering Orleans Parish: "People are dying now from untreated injuries, from unsanitary conditions in the street, from the heat, from lack of food and water. WHERE IS THE HELP! This is unconscionable. There are no resources left locally...RESOURCES SHOULD HAVE ARRIVED ON MONDAY. People are dropping like worthless flies. How can this country forgive itself for letting this happen."

Please consider your ability so support relief efforts via organizations such as the American Red Cross at this time of need.
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