My gripe with the media on the Katrina Death Toll

From Scout:

First let me say I admire Anderson Cooper’s work on Katrina. He cares and he keeps on going back to NOLA. I respect that. But I got an issue with this and it isn’t just CNN or Anderson Cooper

Cooper is in NOLA now and had a report on the search for bodies. But he prefaced it with this on the Louisiana death toll….

CNN LA capture

From Scout:

The Louisiana Death Toll is 1287 as can be seen circled in red in a partial screen capture of the pertinent info below from the State of Louisiana……

katrina death reports 3

I suspect CNN did not include the people of Louisiana who died out of state (see last line above) as Cooper said “the death toll from Katrina in Louisiana alone is About 1100.” To say “IN Louisiana alone” would technically be Close to the correct number for those who died literally Inside Louisiana. But it doesn’t give the full picture. The state of Louisiana began to include the 199 out of state deaths 2 weeks ago which I learned last week after I had noticed a large increase in the death toll…..

So I contacted the LA Dept of Health and Hospitals: Bureau of Media & Communications dept. The increase is from 3 more bodies found and as of last week they now include the 199 out of state deaths in the total. These are deaths that occured from August 27 – October 1, 2005. The person I spoke with said that “only storm related deaths” were included in the out of state deaths.

Or perhaps CNN didn’t do the research and is not aware of this and went with the old numbers. Either way I don’t think this is quibbling and I hope CNN would expand upon their story because it doesn’t tell the full picture. (You can suggest that to CNN here) These numbers are important. They represent lost lives. They also affect how people view Katrina’s aftermath which determines the priority they attach to it. When people see 1100 on the screen that is all they will remember.

Cooper also said “about 1100.” I just do not understand why the media can not give PRECISE numbers on the Katrina death toll. They did for 9/11. Anytime the death toll changed we heard about it. They also do so for soldiers killed in Iraq. What is it about Katrina that we get these rounded off numbers time and again from the television news and newspapers?

Yes the death toll is Still increasing even 6 months out. They are still finding bodies as they search 400 addresses for which there is “consistent information about missing people from those locations.” Could the media please just keep America informed when it changes? (If you ever wondered why I keep posting on the changes it is because they don’t unfortunately.) So the toll is changing and there are some controversies regarding it…so how about doing a story just on the Katrina death toll. They should check out Robert Lindsay’s blog for that.

OK I’m dreaming… rant over and I feel a bit guilty it came due to a Cooper story. He is doing good work IMO as evidenced in this story below on a dog (Rusty) team doing a search for bodies in NOLA….