Rendell, Hart and Hollar have said broadcasting the truth can improve the world, while news that twists or denies realities of our existence can have momentous consequences. We believe this concept and to demonstrate it we have complied 3 major news stories since the year 2000 that have had a major impact on our society both nationally and internationally – and both for better or for worse. These three examples are not meant to be a collection of the most historic stories of the past 12 years; but rather to demonstrate the power the media holds. It’s no secret that journalism is under attack in a myriad of ways; particularly the notion that it deserves to exist as a governmental watchdog. Another river has feed into this phenomenon that allows the public to question the legitimacy of journalism, that is that as viewers we are obviously not able to witness these events firsthand, therefore the media has the power to create pictures in our heads; however they may or may not always be the correct ones. Furthermore this ties in with the daunting concept that we only know what we are told; the media have the ultimate control but how far does this extend? In the cases and media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib and Weapons of Mass Destruction this notion varies greatly.
Hurricane Katrina stands in history as the costliest natural disaster in modern America as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the United States. Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on the 25th August 2005 before moving over southern Florida to the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana, reaping a path of destruction along its way. On the 28th of August it reached its peak in Louisiana with the end result of over 100 billion dollars’ worth of damages and a loss of almost 2000 lives. The impact was felt in political, economic, and social terms however the impact on the media and the impact of the media coverage was one of great magnitude also. Many representatives of the news media reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina became directly involved in the unfolding events, instead of simply reporting. Due to the loss of most means of communication, such as telephone systems, field reporters in many cases became channels for information between victims and authorities. The coverage of Hurricane Katrina especially in the New Orleans area, showed some of the most raw, unfiltered and affecting journalism as the lack of government officials in the area resulted in first hand and revealing news.
As citizens of New Orleans were dying and trapped news reporters such as NBC’s Tony Zumbado were there to reveal that these people, who had been crying for help for four days, were desperate. Of the authorities he said with disgust, “They left! They are there on their own here, there’s no police, there’s no authority.” A clearly distraught Zumbado was one of many that revealed to the world the lack of support that was available to the people of Katrina and the atrocities that he had to face. CNN reporter Anderson Cooper was also quick to call out the government for their lack of support, after finding six dead bodies on the street. He said ``To listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other…it kind of cuts me the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.'' It was a shocking revelation for the people of America that in a time of such need fellow citizens were left behind. Zumbado and Cooper’s powerful statements were played across the country, causing enormous public outcry against the government's incompetence resulting in relief efforts being amplified. According to Judith Sylvester it was partly due to this public pressure that an investigation of the responses from the levels of federal, state and local...