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Maintain perspective

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, September 1, 2005

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the mouth of the Mississippi River with sustained winds of up to 140 miles per hour. The potential for such a major catastrophe had not been seen since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. And such worries were justified – Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast, ripping apart buildings and flooding numerous areas beyond a livable state.

Even now, Katrina’s effects are still being felt by many in the Southeast. A flood levee in New Orleans suffered a breach the size of a football field, causing floods of up to 20 feet throughout the vast majority of the city. Most of the beachside property of Mississippi cities Biloxi and Gulfport has been either destroyed or severely damaged. President Bush has declared the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama federal disaster areas. And at this very moment, lives continue to remain in peril.

The numerous branches of the news media, including news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, as well as several larger newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and New York Times, are quick to look past the well-being of their fellow human beings. Instead, they hastily jump into how Katrina will affect the stock market, how oil rigs that have been put out of commission will escalate gas prices, and how Katrina poses a “threat” to the economy.

It is appalling, even downright disgusting, that today’s news media publicizes the “major issues” so heavily to earn the largest piece of the ratings pie, doing so by overlooking the catastrophic damage done to the Gulf Coast and its population. While people are suffering, even dying, due to Katrina, the media argues about the most miniscule of issues that are vaguely related to the storm. I find this frame of mind immoral, seeing economic and political issues are being placed ahead of the safety of those in the Southeast.

Now, I’m not saying that these issues shouldn’t be talked about at all. I understand that political ramifications and economic issues will be of a high priority at any given time. However, this is not just any given time. This is a time where states of emergency have been declared by state governments across the Gulf Coast. This is a time where relief efforts are most needed. This is a time where humanity should be united, not divided by issues that pale in comparison to the value of human life. Most importantly, this is a time where people are dying, and we should not hesitate to help them by any means possible.

The media seriously needs to re-evaluate its priorities. When one places the cost of gasoline ahead of the sacredness and value of humanity, something is obviously wrong. There is no good reason to even consider doing this. Certainly, ratings are vital to the success of a network or publication, yet this is no reason to overlook and cast aside people who are suffering at the hands of a natural disaster. There is a time and a place for everything; now is the time to help those in the disaster area, not bicker over economic problems caused by the disaster.

Please keep those living in the Southeast in your prayers, and also pray that the news media will see the light and be more sensitive to humanity’s well-being.

Rob LindleysophomoreKeough HallAug. 30