During the tumult and in the wake of Katrina, bloggers from the Gulf Coast as well as around the country provided a unique, personal, and not any less informative alternative to mainstream news.
“It sounds to me like the worst-case scenario, or something like it, may happen after all,” wrote Brendan Loy in his personal blog on Aug. 30. “Is there anything that can stop Lake Pontchartrain from flooding the city, now that there is a substantial breach? This is a catastrophe, and it’s happening right now.”
Loy, a 23-year-old law student at Notre Dame, blogged from Indiana and went from 1,000 hits per day before Katrina, to that many per hour during and after the storm. His blog, the Irish Trojan, was formerly general news, sports and commentary, but became a rapidly-updated Katrina round-up.
Pulling from Gulf Coast bloggers, readers who would e-mail in and experts like Dr. Jeff Masters from Weather Underground, Loy’s journal kept readers abreast of the situation with firsthand accounts, situation analysis and National Weather Service alerts.
Livejournal.com user Interdictor, Michael Barnett, was marooned with his coworkers in New Orleans trying to keep servers in their data center alive on generators. His journal takes readers through the storm from its catastrophic onset to the looting and fires, the levee breaks, and eventually to the military presence in his own words, along with a live webcam feed, and photos he’s personally taken.
On trying to get water and having a bottle thrown at him from a passing truck, he wrote, “I know I’m not looking too hot right now, but come on. I’m standing out there with my flashlight on in the middle of the road, obviously waiting on a convoy.”
“Bunch of stressed out, trigger-ready police and military types driving by suspicious as all hell,” he wrote. “It’s not safe just standing out on the street even if you look like you belong there.”
Livejournal.com user Zeldakitty is another blogger for whom the storm brought renown. Her honesty and candor as well as her decision to ride out the storm at her home in New Orleans drew naysayers and fans alike. “But if I don’t make it,” she said in a post, “it’s fitting that the girl who loves this city enough to tattoo a fleur de lis on the back of her neck, goes down in this mother.”
The Katrina bloggers provided an invaluable service, showing readers the confusion, frustration and struggles of people much like themselves. Although this consumer-generated news isn’t affiliated with any major media organization, the bloggers offer their lives and experience – their credibility judged by their readers, and their news more personal than any corporation could muster.