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Day 346: The Truth Is In The DOing

Mr. Melpomene alerted New Orleans to a recent Blog Herald post which informs that a news team is coming down to the area for a weekend to “report on the ‘ground truth’ of what was happening.”

… we have a vested interest in blogging.. or what we“re calling in this case Citizen“s Media. On the ground reporting from folks that don’t have a mainstream media connection will produce what I hope to be some raw and challenging footage and thoughts that will show us what the current state of affairs in New Orleans really is.

My initial reaction and reply in the comments section of the above post was, “Hmmm ¦ I wonder what we NOLA bloggers have been doing over the past year. I’ve been schooled. Guess we should just shut down our blogs. Then again, outsider perspective that is not MSM is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it’s great. New Orleans needs all the attention it can get, nationally and abroad. You may want to give props to local bloggers who have been writing on this city tirelessly (without pay) since Katrina and the flood. You know, in the interest of shiny, happy synergy and all.”

Following that, I went about my business – if Blog Herald wants to come down here and talk about us, big deal. What’s the worst that can happen but more press for this city? Besides, if the NOLA bloggers make too big a case of it, we’ll be portrayed as being on the defensive and attention will not be called out to our labor as a surprisingly tight-knit community, one of the great things to come out of Katrina and the flood.

However, Ray, Alan, Adrastos and several others also took huge offense to this and voiced it.

I hope that once the Blog Herald folks really do their research and really engage with the people down here that some great things might happen. But first thing out the window has got to be the missionary approach (Ray)

We are fatigued from round after round of academic surveys and self-appointed reporters … This is an attention economy. If you want to help, you can communicate with locals, read our local media, read our blogs, leave comments in our blogs and link to us. You can read what we are writing and convey that to your readers, you can link to us, as we’ve linked to you and commented, many of us grudgingly polite, although you’ve insulted us. (Alan)

It was through Alan’s words that I understood what really bothers me about the Blog Herald weekend contingent.

The difference between real citizen’s media and mainstream media is not just producing raw and challenging footage, but DOING something about it, taking part in it, making it yours and then talking about it loudly and clearly because it deserves to be heard.

The Citizen’s Media of New Orleans has no use for the periodicity of the news cycle when we have a city to save along with the help of people who live here or have moved here to push with us.

The Citizen’s Media of New Orleans is tired of “news teams” coming to this city to report on what we have been LIVING, REPORTING and INVESTIGATING since days before the storm, while implying that we’re not doing it.

The real STORY here is that We Are Not Ok. Today’s nola.com boasts that 82% of the nation realizes this and will keep us in their minds, but that’s not what New Orleans needs.

If you want to come here and help, get your hands dirty, gut houses, walk around in the sweltering heat and identify blighted housing, fight for affordable utilities and housing, take clothes and food to the heat-struck and frustrated, attend neighborhood and planning meetings, cry in frustration that this is happening to your city and smile at the little advances, plead EVERYDAY to the nation to HELP New Orleans and not just keep it in your thoughts and prayers, then you are welcome.

This is the news. This is the truth. Write about it.

19 comments… add one
  • Ray August 9, 2006, 12:37 PM

    Preach it!

    “Citizen journalism” means more than just “amateur reporting”.

    Both “citizen” and “journalism” are weighty words with non-trivial implications, none of which should be lost in the techie stew of podcasts and RSS feeds.

  • jeffrey August 9, 2006, 2:08 PM

    I remain.. as ever.. a sub-amateur sometimes commenter.. but really just a guy with a website. My main complaint about this hubub is the degree to which the outsiders seem to be taking themselves seriously… right down to their fashion model head shots. The difference (in my mind) between bloggers and professional journalists is that the latter generally are afflicted with 1) A beholdence to a corporate or moneyed publisher/advertiser which often takes precedence over reporting truth. 2) An over-inflated sense of self-worth.. or aspirance to celebrity.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong at all with visiting New Orleans and writing about what you see there. Promoting this activity as if it were some kind of heroic event.. something you want to put on a resume.. and attatching your modeling photo to it.. well that’s just plain douchey.

    The fact is that the New Orleans blogging community has been an invaluable source of information and discussion post-K.. something that arose organically from folks just reading and writing about their community.. I can understand why some members of that community feel a bit put out by a project that looks at first like badly researched poseurism. But there’s really no need to cry interloper here. The Blog Herald gang are likely just a bunch of guys with websites themselves…. even if they do appear to think themselves pretty. In the end it’s just more blogging about New Orleans.

  • Adrastos August 9, 2006, 2:42 PM

    Jeffrey: The only reason this thing didn’t die a quick death was their whiny, pompous and self-important replies. I honestly could care less. But if they’re coming here to expose civil rights “atrocities” they need to be prepared to meet some pretty rough people. And if they can’t take some mockery from a few bloggers they’re in trouble…

  • jeffrey August 9, 2006, 3:33 PM

    I agree with that.

  • Mark August 9, 2006, 5:06 PM

    We are the citizen’s media. They are poseurs. You should read Chartreuse (Beta)’s take on what it means to be a citizen journalist (and admire his borderline misogyny).

  • Maitri August 9, 2006, 5:11 PM

    I liked the comment on Chartreuse’s post as to how a team should be sent to Lebanon to cover the truth on the ground. As if there aren’t people living the gore, misery and horror everyday and don’t know it better than some team from the US of A.

    A simple Google search yields this, this and this (really interesting one) for starters.  Tell these people they aren’t hitting ground truth.  I dare you.

    This seems to be bringing out the Cult Of Missionary Carpet-Bloggers.  Unless someone asked me to spread the word, I wouldn’t have the temerity to speak the truth of any place I have no context for.

  • Julie August 9, 2006, 5:19 PM

    I am all about time-wasting at work today, and I’ve been cruising around your blog and those related to “Team New Orleans.”

    And god, I want to punch those guys right in the face.

    Yes, please, come down and lay bare the “truth” about what’s going on in New Orleans. Despite what Chartreuse posted in Adrastos’ blog, I really don’t think this is about looking at already-well-reported to downright sketchy reports of infringements upon civil liberties; just read that announcement. Read the blogs of the supporters/team members. Fuck, look at the pictures. They want a story about how they were THERE, man.

    OK, so my cynicism is shining through. And I suppose if I had my writing all over the place I’d want a decent photo to accompany it. Hopefully they will come down and use their “new” eyes to offer up some new insight. But all of you that noticed that this entire thing was presented as a novel idea – Bloggers, in New Orleans? I do declare! – were not reading too much into the tone of their posts; that’s how it struck me, and my online involvement in anything is about as useful as the thoughts and prayers of the Nation. And whoever made the comment about their inability to use Google and find out that bloggers have been a massive force in NO for a long time was dead on. They’re not content to be the second coming of Christ; they’re heralding themselves as the first coming of the internets to New Orleans.

    Or maybe not. I hope not. But for people who are so convinced of the power of words, they certainly don’t choose theirs very carefully. I can understand that they may want to come in and do independent work so they don’t feel like they’re too swayed by the “internal opinion,” but the fact that they don’t seem to want to meet any of you, much less acknowledge your online presence, is an action that speaks louder than any of their words.

  • Maitri August 9, 2006, 5:29 PM

    Damn, girl! You want to take over my blog?

    Internets, meet my best friend for life, Julie, who comes up with great lines like, “Silly scientist, blogs are for hipsters.”

  • Seymour D. Fair August 9, 2006, 6:30 PM

    I didn’t care for the tone of their announcement nor the model-ized
    head shots. Ridiculous.

    WTF have we been doing for the past 11 months????
    Are they aware of it???? Do they care?

    Duh, what’s the internets????

    I guess I need to get a glamour shot of myself for my blog . . .

  • Seymour D. Fair August 9, 2006, 6:32 PM

    “we” meaning the local blog contingent . . .

  • Becky August 9, 2006, 9:01 PM

    “Carpet-Blogger” is now my word of the day.

  • Ray August 9, 2006, 10:33 PM

    I got my glamour shot ready to go:


    Somebody give me $1000 to find the “ground truth” in New Orleans. I’ll spend $5 buying some truth Blessed by the Chicken Man and spend the rest on lap dances.

  • rickngentilly August 10, 2006, 1:53 AM

    its getting hot in here…….the greatest thing about these internets is also the worst.

    with a little commen sense you can sherlock holmes your way to the truth but if you are lazy you can read print that supports any theory in your head.

    god bless the nola bloggers.
    god bless john mc kuskers.

    god bless new orleans.

  • Mr Melpomene August 10, 2006, 9:15 PM

    Like I said in another place, I am very curious about what these ‘carpet bloggers’ write.
    It may be good, but more likely will be an amusing sideshow.
    On the other hand, they haven’t SEEN it yet. Maybe they will get it once they are in the middle of it all.
    I was hoping we’d remember to check their blog in a few weeks and comment if they winged out. This has taken on a bit of a life of its own.

  • Easton Ellsworth August 14, 2006, 6:34 PM

    I work for Know More Media, which has created a new blog at NewOrleansTruth.com to cover Chartreuse’s attempt to investigate claims in an email he received of post-Katrina human rights violations. We recognize that hundreds of others have already reported on the post-Katrina situation. We are simply trying to cover what Chartreuse is doing, and hopefully also to place his team’s efforts within the much larger context of bloggers and other users of social media tools who have been and still are doing a great job of telling the world what they are witnessing in the New Orleans and U.S. Gulf Coast area.

    Several of you have misunderstood what we are trying to do, and what Chartreuse is trying to do. Please stop describing our or his efforts as comprehensive attempts to rewrite recent New Orleans-area history.

    I’d love to talk with any of you about this. I want to learn from you and incorporate new things into NewOrleansTruth.com to make it a better resource for those interested in finding out what has gone on in that area since Hurricane Katrina. Visit the blog and let us know about your own blog, your experiences, and your perspectives. We’d appreciate your contributions, and so would our readers.

  • judyb August 15, 2006, 12:00 PM

    Easton wrote “Visit the blog and let us know about your own blog, your experiences, and your perspectives.  We’d appreciate your contributions, and so would our readers.”

    Why don’t YOU visit our blogs.   From them you will learn about our experiences and perspectives.

  • GulfSails August 15, 2006, 5:22 PM

    Here Here JudyB.

  • Easton Ellsworth August 15, 2006, 11:50 PM

    JudyB, that’s a great suggestion/invitation. I’ve spent several hours today reading and commenting at New Orleans-area blogs and will continue to do more of that. You’re absolutely right in pointing out that that commuinication should go both ways. How else can we expect to work together?

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