Saturday, September 20, 2008

More from Foley '05 on reporting from Ike shelter

As her experience in being removed from an Austin shelter where she was reporting on Galveston evacuees has drawn some attention (including E&P, Texas Watchdog, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press), Sara Foley '05 wrote more about the experience yesterday. Some excerpts:
After I got kicked out of the Red Cross shelter in Austin, I’ve had some calls from talk radio stations and other media asking about the experience. I’ve also apparently become a journalism lesson for a class somewhere out there.
Other media outlets ... got part of the same story I reported. They knew the shelter didn’t have cots, had some organizational problems and scarce water. But they only heard from those complaining. They only talked to those healthy enough to walk outside and scream loudly.

They didn’t talk to the volunteers who were working hard to fix the problems. They didn’t talk to other evacuees.

For the most part, I ignored those complaining loudly about relatively minor problems. I tried to find those who needed attention, who needed someone to talk to, who needed medical care.

Those were usually the ones happy to talk, but not seeking media attention out for themselves. I reported the good things, too. The hot showers and warm meals were ignored by some, but reported by me.

I didn’t force anyone to talk to me. I told everyone, even the officials, that I was a reporter from the beginning. I didn’t find one person who didn’t want to talk.

When I said I was with the Galveston newspaper, we had a connection. I wasn’t with the national media. I was one of them. My house was in just as much danger as theirs were.