Hurricane Katrina Wiki
Finding Your Relatives: Lesson’s Learned

Racial Bias in Reporting the Hurricane?

Van Jones gives his impressions on the reporting of Hurricane Katrina.

Repeatedly, reporters refer to white victims clinging to life as “survivors” and “residents,” while African-American victims doing the same things are called “looters” and “criminals.” Disproportionately, the humanizing, “heart-breaker” stories feature white victims and families. Meanwhile, images of African-American crowds are almost invariably in the background during discussions of "criminal activity."

Yahoo.com’s news page provided one of the most blatant examples of this kind of bias.

The website featured a photo of two white residents, wading through the water with food. The caption read: "Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)"

Then there is a photo of a Black youth, wading through water with food. The caption reads: "A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)"

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